Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: All Out of Bubblegum

Welcome to The XBL Indieverse's Review of the zombie twin-stick shooter All Out of Bubblegum. The game name is derived from the classic phrase from Duke Nukem himself:  
"I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum."
This game may seem like a clone of other zombie XBLIG's at first glance, but rest assured it has it's unique elements--four player co-op, for example, or an amazing assortment of weaponry, and even the ability to strategically build your own protective structures which brings RTS to the game's mechanics.

All Out of Bubblegum 80 MSP

 All Out of Bubblegum!
  •  Rating
  • Developer – Dennis McWilliams
  • Genre – Shooter
  • XBL Marketplace URLAll Out of Bubblegum
  • Release Date –2/1/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before you Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
"Fortify your defenses and take up arms against the zombie horde. Up to 4 players can build structures, place turrets, choose from an assortment of weapons, and then watch the giblets fly."
                                                                                           --Xbox Live Marketplace Description
I.    Story Line

This particular XBLIG zombie shooter doesn't really have much of a story-line and has no introduction or scenes during gameplay. It's more focused on survival and killing zombies rather than a linear plot. The characters are standard and are differentiated simply by color and have no real persona or characteristics.

The game pits players in what appears to be an suburban neighborhood that's been overrun by zombies, and it is up to our heroes to save the world from the marauding undead; using fun and expansive weaponry players can either save the suburbs from the flesh-eating zombies or die trying in this action-packed Indie gorefest.

II.   Game Mechanics

This XBLIG title utilizes twin-stick mechanics for movement and shooting which makes it much like other zombie shooters such as "Zombie Concentration" and "Zombie Estate" in terms of functionality.

Also, much like those other games, the zombies body parts can be shot off and it takes a few shots to kill the zombies completely. This dynamic adds more challenge to gameplay by making players continually target enemies since one shot (or even three) doesn't stop these brain-eaters.

All Out of Bubblegum puts emphasis on both reaction skills and strategy, as when the waves of zombies and undead get overwhelming it is essential to have a good strategy to evade their attacks. Enemies come in waves, and once all enemies are destroyed in a certain wave players get the chance to buy items and to build structures.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

The structure mechanic is a very awesome and unique feature that isn't found in most zombie shooters, twin-stick or otherwise. This rare feature gives gamers the chance to add fortifications to the open killing grounds and can provide sanctuary from the onslaught of undead. Players are limited to the amount of blocks they can build per round, and players are also timed while building.

As far as overall gameplay goes, this shooter is set up with health that is represented numerically instead of a bar or meter, and there is a limited number of lives in a pool. When playing co-op, each player has their own respective health and lives--the lives aren't shared but are individual.

After each round players earn an amount of cash that is dependent upon your score--how well you did, how many times you died, etc. This cash is used to buy items at the beginning of each new round. Dying can also subtract from your score and losing all lives means Game Over.

Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

III.  Weapons/Items

Possibly the best part of the entire game is the weapons that are used to expel the evil zombie minions. Since ammo is unlimited and rates of fire are different for each weapon (each shot has a short cool-down depending on what kind of weapon) the weapons themselves are extremely gratifying to use.

These weapons can range from the lame (but effective) pistol, which is the starting weapon, all the way up to a motor-bike with chainsaws on the sides (yes, it's a real weapon and it's pink).

There are also RPG's that launch slow but devastating missiles, Assault Rifles that have high rates of fire, a Shotgun that has a spray radius, Plasma weaponry which just annihilates everything, a Flamethrower that ignites nearby enemies...yet the best weapon of all is the Chainsaw Bike because it is the most fun to use.

On this pink zombie-annihilator players can have a lot of fun because the bike itself is very fast and maneuverable as well as extremely deadly--players only have to sideswipe enemies to cut their limbs off, etc.

After each round players are able to buy these weapons as well as precious health packs that are extremely useful especially on the later stages. Gamers can actually expect to complete some waves with as little as 10 health then buy a health pack to restore it back to 100%.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

IV.   Unique Features

This particular zombie shooter is unique for many reasons, one of them being the twin-stick controls. There are quite a few twin-stick Indies out there, and they all use similar mechanics--one analog stick controls direction of shots, and the other controls movement. All Out of Bubblegum's twin-stick mechanic operate much in this way, and the shots are very fluid and exact--overall it's a very well designed control system.

The weapons are another unique feature of this fun, action-packed twin-stick Indie. There are many different types of weapons, each with their own function and ability, and players can amass a nice armory of weapons unless they die--upon death the most powerful weapon is taken out of the player's armaments. These weapons provide players with a fun shoot-em-up experience, especially when using the more powerful weapons like RPG's and Plasma Rifles.

This particular Xbox Indie can be up to four players co-op, and with this many players the game itself unlocks its full potential for enjoyment. When having even another player to help you out this game is less challenging, but with four players its an all out kill-fest. This game is only local multiplayer, however, but it is perfect for gamers who are used to playing with friends.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

V.    Critique

The Good

It's Great Fun! All Out of Bubblegum is a fantastic four-player twin-stick zombie shooter that provides hours of entertainment that progressively difficult--that is as players get farther in the game, it gets harder and harder. Either with four-players or playing solo, this Xbox Indie provides challenging gameplay as well as the chance to hunt zombies with powerful weaponry.

Four Player Co-Op. There are many Xbox Indies that offer four-player local co-op, but there are few that are like this particular game in that four players work together to destroy the oncoming zombie onslaught. Also with four players, the structures that are built can become quite expansive, this offering safe refuge for players with low health.

Enhanced Weaponry. Few zombie shooters offer the expansive choices of weapons that All Out of Bubblegum offers--there are so many choices, and each weapon will stay with the player until they die. Amassing a collection of powerful weapons can be the difference between life and death in this game, and in four-player co-op, having a whole team of players wielding Plasma Rifles or Chainsaw Bikes is amazingly fun. 

The Bad

Graphics. Although I'm the kind of gamer that doesn't focus on graphics, every gamer is different. The graphics for All Out of Bubblegum aren't the greatest, even though everything is in 3D, there are some moments where things are too dark and where enemies are a bit blocky. This may turn off some players that instantly look at it and judge it for how the game appears at first glance.

It's Challenging. A good challenge isn't so hard to find in twin-stick shooters; alot of the time they're quite difficult, especially on singleplayer. This is especially true for this game; novice players might find it to be quite complex and difficult and may be put off by the level of skill it takes to play these sorts of games.

VI.   Wrap-Up

As you can see, there are many unique features and positive aspects about this twin-stick zombie shooter that set it apart from other similar titles in the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. At only 80 MSP, this game is reccommended for all those that enjoy the types of games that are like DDI's "Zombie Concentration" and James Silva's "I Maed A Game w/ Zombies In It".

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: The Incident of Dreamy Vale Church

In this chapter of The XBL Indieverse XBLIG Reviews we'll be taking a look at a fighting game called The Incident of Dreamy Vale Church. This Indie Game is in full 3D and features two English police officer heroines as they battle the walking undead at--you guessed it--Dreamy Vale Church.

As fighters on the Xbox Indie Marketplace are somewhat rare, this is a refreshing addition to the communities ever-expanding library of content.

The Incident of Dreamy Vale Church 80 MSP

Incident of Dreamy Vale Church
  • Rating – 
  • Developer – Darth Cheesiest
  • Genre – Fighting
  • XBL Marketplace URL – The Incident of Dreamy Vale Church
  • Release Date – 1/30/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before you Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
"Fight your way through hoards of un-dead skeletons all set on not letting you leave. - - - - 1 or 2 player sideways scrolling beat’em up adventure with four levels and many combos! - - - - Features a comic book style storyboard, you can also listen to the game’s music in options and look at development shots in the Gallery."
                                                          --Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I.    Story Line

This particularly fun fighting Indie has a rather strange storyline--apparently there are undead walking the earth in Dreamy Vale, a small town in what appears to be England. The church seems to be the source of this curse, and our two heroines Laura and Anna are called to investigate.

Little do they know that they are about to walk into a nightmarish reality that they'll have to fight to the death to escape. The story line is progressive and is in comic-book format; after each level there is a small excerpt with pictures, and eventually the story gets more dynamic as players get farther.

II.   Game Mechanics

"Dreamy Vale" is an enjoyable experience for gamers of all types and ages; whether you're a casual or serious gamer, you can have fun playing this Indie fighter. This game isn't your standard versus PvP fighter, but it is a cooperative one player or two player beat-em-up  adventure. The gameplay reminds this reviewer of the Tekken Force modes in the notorious fighting series in both fighting scheme, controls, and overall game dynamics.

This unique XBLIG also utilizes a myriad of particularly useful combos and attacks, all of which can be used strategically to smash through the skeleton and zombie onslaught. The special maneuvers are also balanced as each time a player uses one of these powerful abilities their health is subsequently drained, giving players an incentive to use the power wisely.

Usually fighting games pit two players against one another, however this game offers the chance for two players to work cooperatively and the game itself is best enjoyed with two players. It's much easier when you have a teammate to rely on, especially in the later stages where enemies are overwhelming in skill and in number. 

III.  Weapons/Items

There aren't any real conventional weapons to be picked up in this game, however Anna Noble and her partner, Laura, both utilize their night-sticks to effectively kill the invading undead armies. As far as items go, there are power-ups, health items such as apples and food, and even poisonous mushrooms that completely invert the directional pad as well as poison mushrooms that can harm the player--or even kill them if they have low health.

IV.   Unique Features

"Dreamy Vale" makes good use of incredible 3D graphics, especially for a XBL Indie Game. The fighting is fluid and flawless, and it can be very fast-paced at times. I'm honestly pleasantly surprised with the overall fighting experience that this game brings, especially with the strategy that's involved with taking down hordes of enemies. The game itself also allows players to move in all directions instead of being limited to just on horizontal path as you are in most versus fighter games.

The sound effects and music tracks are another great feature of this XBLIG fighter. Usually, reviewers of the community don't see many fighting games with such expansive soundtracks, and each track can even be previewed at the title menu. The sound effects are quite fitting and are executed very well; every punch and kill makes you feel like you're really there. The visual effects are also quite good, and the lighting is wonderful in this full 3D graphic side-scroller fighting game.

This Xbox Indie also has an expanded list of moves for each character that are not as complex as players might expect. These combos are mainly button presses that can be differentiated in a few ways but overall they're mostly the same--two-hit combos, three-hits, and so on. The more variety that players user in their combos gives them a better chance to see what works, and saving the power skills for when they're really needed is essential.

This XBL Indie fighter also offers near-infinite replay-ability: although the story itself doesn't change, each battle can have different circumstances each time, depending on both the player's and enemy's performances in battle. Each new playthrough is a chance to do things differently and adapt to learn new strategies to defeat enemy skeletons and undead.

V.    Critique 

The Good

The Graphics. Dreamy Vale has all 3D visuals and environments, and even the comic squares themselves are rendered as well. The meshes are superfluous and the lighting and textures are amazing for a XBLIG--quite possibly the best graphics I've seen in a Xbox Indie fighting game.

It's Fun! Play this game with a teammate to maximize your potential or play alone and test your survival fighting techniques in this adventure-like side-scrolling brawler. This Indie can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages of all types--it's a great way to get prepared for other games as "Dreamy Vale" requires gamers to have a good sense of hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes and reactions.

It's Unique. The unique concepts such as the original story line or the gameplay elements make Dreamy Vale the successful and gratifying playing experience that it is. As zombies and the undead are prevalent themes and motifs that are seen throughout the community's content library, this game offers an exclusive take on the whole zombie cult-genre. 

The Bad 

Solo-play is Too Hard. This title puts great emphasis on the team dynamic and it is highly recommended that gamers keep that in mind before purchasing this title. Don't expect to be able to beat the game on your first five tries, at least, although all gamers are different in terms of skill. Solo-play is much more challenging and difficult, yet it's not impossible to beat.

No Targeting System. The way players target enemies to attack is to simply face them--this can get rather troublesome when players are getting swarmed from all angles. There's no real specific way to easily switch targets in this game--gamers are required to pay close attention and react quickly or suffer the consequences.

No Blocking. Most fighting games, regardless if it's a side-scroller versus type game or a cooperative one like "Dreamy Vale", usually have a means of blocking or guarding to raise defense and reduce damage. This is usually represented by a stance that makes the player immobile but also considerably lowers the attack damage that is received during battle. Since "Dreamy Vale" doesn't have this feature, gameplay can get rather hectic and overwhelming pretty early on.

VI.   Wrap-Up

As you can see, "The Incident of Dreamy Vale Church" is an excellent XBLIG for many reasons; whether its the near infinite replayability in solo or two-player co-op, or the beautiful scenery and full 3D renders, this side-scrolling beat-em-up fighter/adventure game has something for every gamer out there. 

Even though the game is a mere 80 MSP, it's still best to prepare for challenging (and fun) gameplay as well as to have another player to assist in co-op mode.

For more information on this XBLIG or to contact the developer of Dreamy Vale Church, visit:
 Incident of Dreamy Vale Church

--Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse

Review: Super Tank Run

In this installment of XBL Indieverse Reviews I'll be focusing on the surprisingly addictive XBLIG "Super Tank Run" by canstraferight. The review will be in the standard format; five sections with an introduction and wrap-up at the end with videos and links.

Super Tank Run 80 MSP

Super Tank Run
  • Rating – 
  • Developer – Cant Strafe Right Studios
  • Genre – Action & Adventure
  • XBL Marketplace URL – Super Tank Run
  • Release Date – 2/8/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before you Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP

"Trapped deep in an enemy city, separated from your platoon and the only way out is the heavily defended highway. You know you wont make it, but you must try."
                                                                                                  --Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I.    Story Line

This game is more like an arcade game than anything, so it doesn't have much of a story other than what's included with the description on the XBL Marketplace. Basically, players take control of a tank in what appears to be World War II, and uses it an a variety of game modes and play types. Overall the lacking story is something that bothers me, yet it is fitting in a game like this--not much story is needed to have fun.

 Image from Super Tank Run

II.   Game Mechanics

Super Tank Run uses mechanics similar to side-scrolling runner games, most like old, low-res racing games. The game itself allows players to enjoy a multitude of modes such as Turret Toss, Defensive or Offensive which adds a new experience with each try.

The multiple game types that can be found in Super Tank Run are listed below:
  • Defensive - Evade the blockades to get as far as you can and reach high speeds. 3 Tries.
  • 60 Second Run - Collect as many speed tokens as you can and evade blockades for 60 seconds, and blockades count against your score but don't destroy the tank. 1 Try.
  • Offensive - Fire missiles and destroy enemy tanks and evade blockades to earn points--crashes into both result in death. 3 tries.
  • Turret Toss - Gain speed tokens and evade blockades--crashes result in death--to gain speed. Object of the game is to "launch" the tank's turret into the air and make it go as far as possible. This fun mini-game is the most addicting of all gametypes. 3 tries.
Super Tank Run also supports Local Versus modes for up to 8 players in "Defensive", "60 Second Run", and "Offensive" gametypes so that others can trade off with the same controller. Quite useful at gatherings and can even be played by children.

This game makes use of reaction timing and hand-eye coordination and is even enjoyable for gamers of all ages and tastes.

 Image from Super Tank Run

III.  Weapons/Items

This Indie Game is more like an arcade-style racing-esque game that has many mini-modes to allow for expansive gameplay for individuals or groups of gamers. There are no conventional items other than the speed tokens that are picked up throughout--these allow the tank itself to gain more and more speed and also give points.

Weapons in this game depend on the gametype--there aren't any conventional weapons in the normal game modes, however in the "Offensive" gametype players are able to shoot down other tanks with missile attacks by pressing (A).

Although the game is lacking in weapons and items--there could easily be other power-ups and other items included that enhance the game in many ways--it is true to the runner-type genre in that it provides the standard experience of dodging and evading certain objects while maintaining high speeds.

IV.   Unique Features

Super Tank Run's unique features include the many game modes that offer a different experience every time, a progressive global Hi-Scores list that's updated daily, and multiplayer modes that offer a chance for friends and groups of gamers to enjoy competing against one another.

Turret Toss in itself is a unique gametype, as the concept is a bit hilarious and enjoyable. This mode of play is the most addicting in my opinion, as I'm always trying to use different combinations of angle height, speed, and evasion tactics to improve my score.

As this XBL Indie doesn't have gore, violence, or adult themes, it is quite suitable for younger gamers. It gives players the feel of a classic old-school retro side-scrolling racer while delivering randomized tracks and a different experience every time.

The soundtrack to this Indie is another unique feature, as it is quite good especially for gamers who are also fans of metal. There are different tracks for the different levels and game modes, and overall the songs themselves may seem out of place in this game but are a welcome addition to an Indie title.

 Image from Super Tank Run

V.    Critique 

The Good

It's Different. Compared to most of the games on the XBLIG Market, Super Tank Run is a different type of game that offers for a slice of gaming that only used to be found in coin-op game arcades. It's pleasant variety in modes of play, style, and game mechanics makes for a fun playing experience with each run.

Anyone Can Play. There are many XBLIG's that offer the ability for all gamers to enjoy the game itself, and this is one of them. You don't have to be a pro at headshots or an experienced level 99 wizard to have fun and to be good in this game--young children or old grandparents can have a fun time in this classic runner.

It's Addictive. Many games like Super Tank Run are quite monotonous and boring, but this particular game offers a different track with every run which affords gamers the chance to do things better (or worse). I find myself always wanting to better my score, and since some game types offer multiple tries, it can be somewhat of a compulsion to try to do your best.

The Bad

Graphics. While I find them to be personally pleasing and enjoyable, many gamers have come to expect a standard from all games, not just XBLIG's. Since this game has low-res and blocky images, most gamers would look past it just for this reason.

No Story. The game itself is devoid of any sort of real story. It's more of a standard racing game with no definable plot-line or story. I myself have come to enjoy games with any sort of story, especially if it's extended and expansive--which is why RPG's are most rewarding to me.

Too Simple. Super Tank Run, even though it has multiple gametypes, is quite simplistic in it's gameplay and doesn't offer players much chances to think and apply knowledge. It is a standard reaction-based game that relies not on planning and strategy but quick reflexes and keen hand-eye coordination.

VI.   Wrap-Up

Overall, Super Tank Run can be very enjoyable to many gamers--whether they are amateur, casual, or pro gamers. I myself did enjoy the game but found it rather lacking in many areas, but for an XBLIG it's a welcome addition to the marketplace. The game has many strong points and weak points, and offers an enjoyable, ever-changing experience that can be equated with many side-scrolling games of it's type.

For more information on Super Tank Run, visit these helpful links:

Super Tank Run

Remember to "try before you buy" to avoid any frustration or regret that can be associated in purchasing something you don't enjoy. Since Xbox Live's content is non-refundable, it's a good idea to play the trial a few times just to make sure you'll enjoy it.

Stay tuned to The XBL Indieverse for more XBLIG Reviews, Previews, and more!

--Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse
   Mr. Deeke at
   Derek S. at Game

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Preview: Sol Intelligence

Welcome to the second installment of The XBL Indieverse's Previews! On this issue we'll be focusing on Rickettz Studios' upcoming XBLIG "Sol Intelligence". This game is a hybrid of technological proportions, and combines both action adventure and platformer into one unique package.

Sol Intelligence

  • Developer: Rickettz Studio
  • Game Site: Sol Intelligence
  • Sugg. Price: 80 MSP
  • Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Indie Game)
  • Release: Coming Soon (to be announced)
Sol Intelligence is an upcoming platform-style, sci-fi tech-themed Indie that puts emphasis on both strategy and skill. The story line is quite enigmatic and creates a sense of mystery for players--giving them the incentive to keep playing in order to learn more. Who is Sol? Why is he trapped in what seems to be a giant computer system? These questions and more are answered in this upcoming fantastically fun XBL Indie.

Ever wonder what it'd be like to actually go into a computer's microchips and motherboards? If you're a gamer and a computer lover then the answer is most likely yes. This game offers that unique chance at what an adventure into binary code might look like, and it simulates a rare artificial technological reality that allows players to be fully immersed into another world that's replete with enemies, items, and fantastic styles and designs.

Rickettz Studios tries it's take at a platformer hybrid with RPG and shooter elements in this highly addictive and enjoyable XBLIG title. Sol Intelligence allows players to take control of "Sol", who appears to be a sprite that has hidden potential. Fight past enemies and strategically navigate the labyrinthine mazes to collect key items and even unlock awardments in this entertaining upcoming Indie.

This game uses vivid colors and keeps with the overall sci-fi technology theme throughout gameplay. As players progress farther through the game, it gets harder and harder--each stage becomes more challenging.

Gamers can make use of unique abilities and collect items to build up Sol, the main character, and improve his strength in battle.

Sol Intelligence also adds a bonus to it's replayability and overall entertainment by adding awardments to the game. These mini-achievements can range from easy to difficult and short to long--it can either be an easy awardment that is attained in a short period, or a difficult one that is attained throughout progressive gameplay.


With enjoyable atmospheres and ambient sounds, a unique cross of many genres, and an overall aesthetically pleasing gaming experience that gamers of all ages can enjoy, Sol Intelligence is a welcome addition to the XBLIG marketplace and any gamer's library. As Rickettz Studios' first platformer adventure game, this title is sure to please the gaming community as a whole.


For more information on Sol Intelligence and it's development team, Rickettz Studios, visit these links: 

        That wraps up our second XBL Indieverse Preview article focused on "Sol Intelligence". Keep an eye out for it on the XBL Indie Games Marketplace, and we'll be sure to update the page once the game is released. Stay tuned for more exclusive first looks at upcoming Xbox Live Indie Games.

        --Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse

        Friday, February 11, 2011

        Preview: Dead Shift

        In our first introductory installment of the Previews series, we'll be taking a look at a very exciting upcoming zombie apocalypse-themed XBLIG title called Dead Shift. Details on the story are scarce, however there has been a influx of picture and video content from the developer to give fans a better idea on how the game will function, how it will look, etc.

        • Developer: Punk Labs
        • Game Site: Dead
        • Sugg. Price: 240 MSP (subject to change)
        • Platform: PC / Xbox 360 (as a Xbox Live Indie Game)
        • Release: TBA (to be announced)

          Dead Shift is an upcoming zombie apocalypse XBLIG that will redefine both our expectations from 3D Indies and Zombie games. This incredible Indie will assuredly rule the market with it's beautific graphics and fluid gameplay--already fans are clamoring for more and it's only in it's development stages. 

          With an incredible 2,749,733 Total Upload Views from DeadShift's YouTube Channel we can see that the game already has an enormous interest from gamers and users alike. This title is very highly anticipated and gamers from all over the globe are looking forward to slaughtering zombies in this awesome Indie.

          Think GTA crossed with a horror-survival game set in the arid west. This game is truly one of the best Indies I've ever come across and it's going to be big on the XBLIG Marketplace, namely the zombie genre. The undead in this game are frightening and true to the definition of a zombie that we're all familiar with--they're gorey, shambling, and very deadly.

          This particular zombie game takes us to the remote, vast expanses of a barren desert. The western motif is prevalent throughout--sand, packed-earth, tumbleweeds and cacti are seen all over--and this is one of the few games that focus on this particular genre of zombie survival within the secluded desert. This game truly fits with the whole idea of desolation and offers a sense of solitude--no one is coming to help you, and those that were around are now walking undead.

          Dead Shift truly has amazing graphics--I can't stress how wonderful they are. You can see for yourself how awesome they are in the myriad of pictures on their site, and the mini-gallery I've included. These graphics always look smoother in-game when run on a computer, yet on X360 the games can vary with the video set-up, as some gamers still play on SD televisions.The environments. shading, textures, etc. are all very high quality for an Indie game, especially one on the XBLIG market.

          This game is nothing short of incredible when it comes to gameplay, as well--it's not just a pretty package. Our heroine, Miri, may look like she's under-equipped to deal with a zombie onslaught, but don't let her appearance fool you; she's quite the survivalist type. From the videos, we can see that it's possible to use nearly everything that the character can pick up as a weapon--bats spiked with nails, nail guns, shovels, etc.--not to mention the ultimate weapon; vehicles. That's right, you'll be able to mow down hordes of undead with a vehicle, and all cars are driveable.

          With fantastic skyboxes, interactive environments, and expanded graphics, we can expect an awe-inspiring visual masterpiece from Dead Shift that is as fun as it is to watch as it is to play. Hopefully Punk Labs will have the time and resources to finish the game within the season for a release possibly during Summer, and it'd be fantastic to hear about an episodic series centered around the Dead Shift universe.

          Video Gallery

          PolyVector, the developer at Punk Labs who's working on Dead Shift, has been courteous enough to the fan base to release a smorgasboard of media for our hungry eyes. More content can be found at the link to his YouTube Channel listed below.

          Below are two of the seven videos that are available on YouTube for viewing about Dead Shift. The first is the official teaser trailer released in early development stages, and the second features the first in a series of six videos that take a close look of Dead Shift's elements.

          The teaser trailer for Dead Shift, found in the YouTube Channel--released by PolyVector of Punk Labs.

          The first video in a series of six showing off Dead Shift's multiple dynamics. Each video focuses on a different aspect of the game.

          New updates and pictures are released regularly, so it's always a good idea to keep up-to-date on the information regarding Indie Games. Sometimes the game features are subject to change, and sometimes these changes are very big; they might even remake them game itself. We've compiled a comprehensive listing of link resources for our readers to keep informed on this fantastic Indie game. 

          For more information, updates, pictures and videos on Dead Shift, visit these links below:


          PolyVector's Twitter Feed (Game updates & More)

          Punk Labs Home Site (Info on Punk Labs)

          DeadShift Home Site (Info on Dead Shift)

           That wraps up our first "Previews" article here on the XBL Indieverse. We're looking forward to this game and have been closely following it's development throughout the weeks, and have watched it grow from an idea into an entire world replete with amazing elements. 

          If you enjoy this game, be sure to support the development team by following them via Twitter and YouTube, and maybe leave a comment telling the dev what you think of their game on the homesite.

          --Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse

          Thursday, February 10, 2011

          Interview: Red Crest Studios

          Today the XBL Indieverse has had the pleasure to have a Q & A Interview with Mike Ventnor of Red Crest Studios, creator of the fantastic XBLIG RPG "Bonded Realities".

          The Indieverse has also reviewed "Bonded Realities", and a link to the Review can be found here.

          The Interview will consist of ten (10) questions altogether, and each of them ask a different  regarding to both the game and Red Crest Studios, the development studio. Our guest's responses will be represented in italics while the questions will be in bold script.

          All responses are taken verbatim and unedited to reflect the original tone, and the developer has answered each question in full--there have been no changes or deletions.

          In the Interview...
          Italics - Mike Ventnor, Red Crest Studios
          Bold - Deeke777, The XBL Indieverse

          #1. How did you first get the idea for "Bonded Realities"?

          I wanted to make an RPG because I thought it would be easy, as the
          mechanics were so well-defined. I was wrong, as it turns out, but what
          else would one expect from a game developer's ego. I also enjoyed RPGs
          a lot, and wanted to make one on a service that has a shortage of
          #2. Are there any specific RPGs that influenced the development of
          your game title?

          All the RPGs I've played! But the ones I enjoyed the most were the
          ones that had a lot of humour in them, your Paper Marios and your
          Earthbounds etc. This applies to any genre, but I enjoy games a lot
          more when they tell jokes, and are full of humour especially in places
          where you don't expect to find it. I wanted to recreate that feeling
          since it's been getting harder and harder for me to find a game which
          treats humour on the same level.

          #3. The storyline for this game is quite unique--are there any media
          sources that inspired you? Such as movies, books, tv shows, etc. If
          not, where did you get the idea for the story itself?

          The stories I enjoy the most were ones that started out with humble
          beginnings, and the problems are gradually revealed to the player as
          the story unfolds. I found it awkward that a climax happens at the
          start, for example your village is destroyed by the enemy, and you
          must go out and beat that enemy but you don't even know why he is your
          enemy until much later.

          Secondly, by transporting the kids to another world, I can go crazy
          with character design and enemy design without having to explain it
          away. I want to be able to have the player enjoy the characters in
          game without worrying about their origins, since this storyline makes
          their origins irrelevant.

          #4 You've informed us at The Indieverse that all the game sprites are
          hand-drawn. Yikes, that's -alot- of work. How long did it take to draw
          and implement them into your RPG?

          The key was to be smart with the assets! A lot of graphics in game are
          generated programatically, sometimes re-using a lot of textures but
          with a different colour palette. So while there was still a lot to
          draw, I managed to minimise the time needed to draw assets, which was
          good considering I'm not a good drawer! The sprites for people were
          the hardest to draw, but I became more efficient once I created a
          template for all animation frames a character sprite might use.

          #5. How long have you been a gamer and what are some of your personal
          favorite RPGs (or other games, perhaps list a favorite Indie Game if
          you'd like, etc)

          I've been gaming for as long as I can remember, since I was introduced
          to my grandfather's IBM-compatible DOS PC! Among all the PC models I
          played with at home and school, I didn't become a console gamer until
          the Nintendo 64 days. I mentioned before that my favourite RPGs were
          the humourous ones. I play games to uplift myself and well-designed
          humour does that for me.
          #6. Let's talk music. The soundtrack for Bonded Realities is meoldical
          and quite fitting with the RPG theme. Did you create the music tracks

          No. I licensed the music. I did have themes in my head while I was
          searching, though. The tunes I picked were the ones that matched
          closest with what I had in my head.

          #7. Are there any easter eggs or secret hidden items in Bonded Realities?

          Mostly the easter eggs come from finding all the treasure chests in
          the game. That's what the game considers to be 100% completion, and
          you get a lot of small but neat prizes for getting there. I would've
          liked to add more, there was a whole new mode I was considering, but
          there are only so many hours in a day especially for a one-man studio.

          #8. When you were developing your XBLIG, what traditional RPG elements
          did you consider to be essential and a top priority above all else?

          None of them! I wanted to make a game that was fun to play but had a
          simple, easy-to-pick-up interface. The original design of the game
          didn't even have equipment, but I added it in later purely because I
          was so bored writing level data that I wanted to start using my brain
          with some engine code. My goal was to make a game that was simple and
          never overwhelming, which was a common complaint for RPGs, but is
          arguably one of the biggest complaints about it!

          #9. All in all, what was the hardest part in creating Bonded Realities?

          It mostly came down to underestimating the time needed to make an RPG,
          and a lack of organisation. I didn't encounter a problem I couldn't
          solve, and indeed I had a lot of fun solving design problems during
          development, but development as a whole just took far longer than I

          #10. A new patch for your RPG is slated for release sometime soon. Can
          you give us any details on what gameplay changes we might see in the

          Mostly it was about making the battles a little harder, in response to
          feedback. A change of boxart is also coming. I didn't have much time
          to make major changes as there was the XNA 3.1 deadline looming, but I
          hope the game sells enough to fund a sequel!

          For more information on Red Crest Studios and "Bonded Realities", visit these links:
          We would like to thank Mike Ventnor for the Q & A Interview--it is always nice to hear from the developers and learn more about their games. The Indieverse appreciates all efforts from developers and their respective studios not only for their games, but for these glimpses into the process of Indie Game development itself.

          This really was a rare opportunity to get inside a developer's imagination and see what influenced them to make their game the way it is.

          Stay tuned for more Interviews and other articles pertaining to XBL Indie Games here on the Indieverse.

          --Deeke777 at The XBL Indieverse
             @XBLIndieverse (Twitter)

          Wednesday, February 9, 2011

          New Releases Feb 7-9

           New Releases: Feb. 7th - 9th

          This is our first article on the new Xbox Live Indie Games released over a certain span of time. The New Releases feature is a new introductory utility that The Indieverse will employ to promote and to shed some light on the noteworthy new releases. Each article will have a synopsis of the games, a brief "impression" on each of them (after a playthrough of the Trial Game) that will act as a mini-review of sorts, links to the game on the marketplace, a link a video of the game (if applicable), box art picture, and a Rating (0-5, where zero is the lowest and 5 is the highest).

          This particular edition will be focusing on titles released from February 7th - 9th, and in this short span we've seen a good number of games added to the marketplace. Since we can't focus on all the games, we've picked what we believe to the best out of the new releases.

          In the last two days we have seen quite a few additions to the XBLIG marketplace. There have been many official new releases, each title being unique and quite entertaining. We will be focusing on these games:
          • Defy Gravity Feb. 7
          • Final Rift Feb 7
          • Zombie Concentration Feb 8
          • Elemental Revolt: Battle High - San Bruno Feb 8
          • Mind's Eye of Jupiter 03 Feb 9
          In order to provide consistency we'll focus on the games in linear chronology in the format of ascending order--that is to say they'll be listed from earliest release date to latest. For my source of information I am using the official Indie Game Marketplace page.

          New XBLIG Releases Monday, February 7th 2011
          On this day we see two exciting and unique submissions--Defy Gravity and Final Rift. Each game has their own features and elements, but overall all three titles are quite superb and fun.

          Defy Gravity  
          Defy Gravity     

          XBL Marketplace
          Developer - Fish Factory Games
          Rating - 4/5

          This game is very addictive and quite enjoyable for gamers that were fans of the Super Metroid games. It's a space-theme platformer that offers dynamic backgrounds and great music, but it's most unique element is the gravity gun that is utilized throughout--with nearly infinite possibilities, these gravity and repulsion wells are you key to beating the game. It gets rather difficult as you progress, sometimes to the point where you have to die a few times to see what works and what doesn't.

          Final Rift
          Final Rift
          XBL Marketplace
          Developer - LargeLaserGames
          Rating - 5/5

          Final Rift is a slightly watered down version of Space Pirates of Tomorrow in terms of mechanics and gameplay. The game itself is fantastic, though, and provides a unique hybrid of space-shooter and RPG. Shoot down other enemy ships, attack pirates; or you can be evil and smuggle illegal substances to other pirates or attack government ships. All of these scenarios and more are available in this highly-enjoyable galactic shooter!

          New XBLIG Releases Tuesday, February 8th 2011
          Tuesday brings us a very exciting title in particular; the fighting game Battlehigh. This game is a must-have for all Street Fighter fans out there, especially the die-hard veterans. We also are treated to DDI's next game Zombie Concentration, a top-down zombie shooter that takes both strategy and know-how to beat.

          Battle High:  San Bruno
          XBL Marketplace
          Developer - Point 5 Projects
          Rating - 5/5

          Elemental Revolt - Battlehigh: San Bruno is a true breakthrough in XLBIG's, especially in the fighter genre. It's one of the first low-res fighters that function just like Street Fighter. Everything about this title is awesome, and at a mere 80 MSP, it's a steal. A true must-have for all fighting game enthusiasts, especially Indie gamers.

          Zombie Concentration
          XBL Marketplace
          Developer - Drop Dead Interactive
          Rating - 4/5

          Amidst all the zombie games out there, this game is a great shmup that offers a similar playing style to the original "I Maed A Game About Zombies!1!1". With co-op play the game takes on a whole new level of fun and zombie slaughter--yet solo offers the challenge of survival hordes of undead by yourself. Will you be victorious, or will you be dinner?

          New XBLIG Releases Wednesday, February 9th 2011
          Today we see the introduction of the last installment of one of my favorite game series, The Mind's Eye of Jupiter. It is with mingled excitement and trepidation that I write this, as I'm anxious to see the conclusion of the story but I don't want it to end. I'm sure some of you know exactly what I mean.

          Mind's Eye 03
          Mind's Eye of Jupiter - 03
          XBL Marketplace
          Developer - Travis Rogers
          Rating - 5/5

          The Mind's Eye of Jupiter series offers amazing graphics and very odd, unique environments. Never have I seen such strange architechtcure from any game, let alone an XBLIG. This series is truly a visual feat that features first-person style adventure gameplay. Mind's Eye 03 is the last installment in the trilogy, and it will conclude the story and end Alice's journey through time and space. Will the Dream Guide prevail, or will the Nightmare Guide reign supreme?

          That concludes our New Releases article on The XBL Indieverse. Remember, if you're skeptical make sure you "try before you buy" and get the Free Trial for each of these games to see for yourself.

           --Deeke777 @ The XBL Indieverse