Maybe you’ve checked out the Indie Games section on Xbox Live once or twice. Maybe you heard about a game you had to check out, or you bought that carnival puzzle game or the stupid how-to-talk-to-girls one, or Zombie Avatar Whatever. We’re not here to judge, but there are many other games worth checking out that very few people have told you about. Here are eight guaranteed fun Indie Games from the past and more-recent past that your 360 hard drive should not be without.
If you fondly remember Super Dodge Ball (or any of the games in the River City Ransom/Kunio-kun lineage), Downtown Smash Dodgeball will bring those fuzzy memories right back. That’s because it’s from the guys who made the original game, now working for their own indie game company, Miracle Kidz. The art style uses the exact same iconic character designs, retains the simple two-button gameplay and crazy super-vollies, goofy one-liners ticking across the screen a la RCR — with no debilitating flickery slowdown, either.
A transplant from the PC “doujin” scene, Kaiten Patissier is a crazy puzzle platformer where you flip the world around to progress and collect all the food items in the stage. Grabbing hold of a wall and pushing the action button rotates the entire stage 90 degrees, which in most cases will also shift around surrounding blocks, letting you progress a little. It’s simple most of the time, but things do get more complicated as the block patterns and maze designs do. It has tons of stages (with plenty more in the separate Ura Kaiten Patissier) and is plenty of fun with a retro spirit the whole way through.
In the vein of Kaiten Patissier is this long-named title; a shooting game that takes place in a… hot spring? It works, and not in any way you’d expect. As the towel-clad girl Chieri, you head into a hot spring that’s lowering itself into the earth, destroying rubber ducky enemies and collecting the fruit they release. Um, yeah. Pegs constantly rise up out of the water, and you must grab onto them with Chieri’s elastic bunny pal to start shooting at enemies, and with somewhat realistic physics — shooting in a given direction is like a jetpack propulsion that keeps Chieri floating. It’s not as confusing as it sounds; it’s just good, nutty fun.
This R/C helicopter game is a rip-off of MiniCopter: Adventure Flight, a years-old Wii game. However, it’s a competent rip-off, and cheap and easy to acquire, so there’s not much to hate. You take a chosen ‘copter through a series of challenges in familiar backdrops like living rooms and kitchens. Challenges boil down to collecting stars then touching down on a goal pad, but you’ll soon have multiple obstacles to boost your score on the side. And you have to be pretty delicate, or else you’ll hit something that takes your propeller clean off. The graphics are pretty good, too, with cel shading that brings out the whimsy of… tooling around a house in a toy helicopter.
Leave Home is one of the best-realized shoot-em-ups on XBLIG. It’s packed with bright, abstract imagery, with an ever-accelerating gauntlet of obstacles coming your way. That said, it is a little more difficult from the get-go than some other shooters, but it’s just so smooth to play — until you keep dying, but that’s just how it goes. Basically, the whole package is just so well put-together that you’ll want to keep going. Pick it up and see where shooters can go.
There are more than enough indie games (on XBL and elsewhere) that employ fancy hand-drawn graphics and cute characters… and TIC is one of them. However, it’s not about a bunch of puzzles every few steps. TIC is a sort of doofy unicycle-looking thing that can freely float around the world and completes little objectives around the world in order to take down the industrializing bad guys — which usually amounts to finding a switch to remove some sort of obstacle like shutting down a machine, but not every game needs to be a twitchy action challenge. The whole atmosphere of the game is just plain pleasing, and stands out among the rest of the XBLIG lineup.
It’s buried at the bottom of the XBLIG list, but this unassuming Japanese game is one of the more addictive ones in the catalog. As a hero turned into a slime, you must bounce your way through the bad guy’s multi-tiered castle in order to rescue the princess and save the land. He’s always bouncing, and you have to get him to the exit portal in each stage by tweaking his trajectory. However, you don’t do that by controlling him directly, but by tilting the entire stage, like a marble in a maze. A guideline makes it easy to see how and where he’ll travel, but it’s not so easy to try and bounce him past giant rotating columns or crumbling platforms of different heights. Thankfully there’s no hard time limit.
Chances are you know (or have) this one already, but if not, let me just say: get it now. Wizorb is one part Arkanoid and one part Zelda; a gauntlet of brick-breaking levels with plenty of magical power-ups to help you along, and an underlying objective of trying to rebuild the destroyed medieval village. Wizorb also looks great, but its pixel art is more than just a style; if it wasn’t so colorful, it could have passed for an NES game from another dimension. It’s simply a fantastically-executed product from a couple of guys who just plain “get it” in regards to retro-style game making.