Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap


Posted May 3, 2011 - By Rob Manuel

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There have been a lot of really good indie games out recently on the Xbox, and sadly, we can't access the PlayStation Network right now to check out indie games on that console. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, Outland, and Fancy Pants Adventures have all hit the Xbox in recent weeks. May is staerting to like a blockbuster month in a normally dry season just before E3.

 If your virtual wallet has been feeling the squeeze recently, then maybe it’s time that you turned to some Xbox indie titles to lighten the pressure. Here’s a list of amazing games for just a couple of bucks. Better yet, all of these games have demos so you can give them a test drive before you buy. 

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap

Read on for more!

Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes

Cost = 80MS

Indiana Jones and Super Meat Boy just had a love child and they named it Aban Hawkins & the 1000 Spikes. The title is rather misleading because I think there are way more than 1000 spikes in this little downloadable title. You are an adventurer of sorts off to find treasure and fulfill a massive deathwish by entering some deathtrap temples. Aban takes his time unlike his meaty brethren because this ain’t a race. The game introduces some learning moments throughout the stage where the floor gives way, spikes shoot out from nowhere, or darts come sailing down your tunnel. Learn or die, it’s just that simple. You’re given 1000 lives at the very start of your journey, and there are no extra lives, and no midpoint saves. Aban only gives you a sense of accomplishment after passing each level and that encourages you to keep going. And keep dying.

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap

ZP2KX: Zombies & Pterodactyls

Cost = 80MS

Ska Studios may be the biggest indie developer on XBLI. The fact that they just put out The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile only months after ZP2KX proves that this is a diverse team that can pull out the bigger titles as well as the quick fixes for their bloodthirsty audience. Following in line with their dark, hand-drawn art style, ZP2KX is a multiplayer free-for-all that will match your trigger finger against that of a room full of other players. Up to ten players will test their merit with swords, guns, grenades, and a couple of punches to your 2D face. After gaining enough experience, you can dress up your own characters and pick out their abilities. From taking on more explosive damage to a little extra lift in your backpack, there’s enough here to make the kind of character that suits your playing style. Ska Studios continues to update and set up special XP events for this 80MS game. Bigger companies could learn a thing or two from this team.

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap


Cost = 80MS

The name of the game is LaserCat. Isn’t that enough?

Fine. You are a small 8-bit cat who is trying to save your friend the owl. (Yes, just like the poem.) In order to save him, you’ll need to collect the 30 keys to unlock the tower of the magic space frog. This far less stressful platformer lets you explore a huge world of flying pigs, trolls, and other objects that move in reliable patterns. The game focuses more on exploration rather than punishing jumping. There are some tricky parts there, but the game is far more forgiving with a save system that lets you warp around from point to point. You may need to find different ways to enter the same room, but that’s just part of the fun. If you're looking for a quick and cute platformer, you cannot go wrong with LaserCat. I mean, come on, he hops around on his little front paws. How can you not love that?

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap

Alpha Squad

Cost = 240MS

When you need help and there’s no one else to turn to, you can always call – Alpha Squad. Yes, the indie game with more testosterone than Chuck Norris’ jockstrap puts you into the shoes of one of four members of this elite force of mercenaries sent out by your extremely endowed boss.  In this top down shooter, you’ll need to clear out each area before continuing forward. Enemies splatter in a satisfying chunky mess that paints the floors red. Once you hit the appropriate body count, you can continue forward or search the house that often holds money, additional missions, or enemies. Money is king since you’ll need to pay for most of your health packs or nicer weapons. Luckily, you can pop out of the mission at any time and buy items or try your hand with your boss’ big guns. Er, you know what I mean. Up to four people can play at once. Alpha Squad also supports online support so you can send out a global invite to join you – if you can find someone else playing it. Visceral action and anime-style cutscenes adds up to one testosterone-fueled afternoon of fun.

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap


Cost = 240MS

Think of JoyJoy as the kinder version of Geometry Wars. This little indie title doesn’t care how long it takes you get to the end. Do you need to take a hit? That’s all right. Your shields can take several before you blow apart. Why don’t you take several different types of weapons with you? You have a wide selection of ammunition from homing shots to spread shots that gain additional upgrades as you play the game. Even if you find the swarms a little too much, JoyJoy lets you pick up from your death as though nothing ever happened. You can even adjust the game beforehand to give yourself the upper hand with a faster ship, stronger weapons, and even invincibility. The tradeoff here comes with your score taking a hit whenever you take fire or use a cheat. If you want to get on the leaderboards, you’re going to have to play fair

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap

Blocks Indie: The Devilish Delivery Game

Cost = 240MS 

All you need to do is move a box from one side of the board to the next. Don't worry, it won’t break. You can toss the sucker if you want but you just have to get it on an island by using a little pad with duel jets. Here’s the trick – you can only control one jet at a time. You get the left or the right one, not both. Devilish doesn’t even begin to describe some of the tricks you’ll need to pull off to get the box to the island. The levels slowly ramp up in difficulty. and the game focuses on precision and timing. You not only need to get your package to the island as soon as humanly possible but you’ll need to do it without touching any of the other stones in the area if you want that special prize. Honestly, moving it a couple of feet up and to the right is a small feat within itself. Woe be the perfectionist who gets their hands on this game.

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap

Protect Me Knight

Cost = 240MS

Indie games aren’t just made by insane Americans and crazy Swedes. Japanese developers love the indie scene just as much and Protect Me Knight will throw you back into the retro 16-bit arena. You even start off the game by pulling out a virtual cartridge and blowing on it. You'll play as one of four classes (warrior, ninja, mage, or amazon) as you protect the princess from swarms of enemies. Our damsel in distress stays in the middle of the screen as you build structures around her to impede swarms of enemies. You can upgrade these little stick huts to something more formidable or turn them into catapults to rain down pain on your assailants. The old-fashioned way of running into danger with your sword in hand also does the trick. Each class has their own special attacks that can be upgraded along with your fighter, and later levels introduce new enemies that can get around your little traps. Up to four people can try to protect the princess and earn the love you never got in real life.

Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap


Cost = 240MS

I’m not going to lie to you – Lumi is freaking adorable. You play as a race of what I can only assume is the evolutionary step up from those pom-poms with googly eyes. Out of nowhere, a giant black hole plunges your world into darkness and turns several of your fellow fuzzballs into frightening creatures. You must return light to the world by collecting fireflies and depositing them at specific trees. Once you’ve fed the trees enough light, they will bloom (ala Okami) and bring light back into the world. You can traverse the world by hopping around or by the blue and red spirals littered throughout the levels. This really interesting mechanic makes for a rather deep platforming game with very few platforms. By hitting either of the triggers, your creature becomes attracted to the spiral of the color he radiates and repulses the opposite color. As soon as you latch on to a spiral, you begin to spin around the outer rim. Timing, precision, and remembering which trigger is what color all comes into play at nearly every leap. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be sailing through levels in no time. 

So that's what we've been playing on the cheap. What about you?


Xbox Live Indie Games: Keeping It Cheap


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