Another Monday, another few games to review in the Indie Uprising! This time around we’re looking at Asteroids Do Concern Me, Decimation X3, and Chu’s Dynasty.
Asteroids Do Concern Me
As is often the case with indie games, you’ve played “Asteroids Do Concern Me” before. You autoscroll to the right, gravity pulls you down, thrusters push you up. Your goal is to go as long as possible without smashing into the ceiling, the ground, or the many hunks of debris that go drifting by. When I play it on my MP3 player, it’s called helicopter. So what makes this worth buying? Well, that was already an addictive little game, for one, but there are other reasons. After refining the gameplay by giving you (one at a time) multiplayer and adding items that increase the velocity and thus scoring potential, ADCM slopped on as much as it could in every other area. Graphics? You’ve got classic mode with traditional asteroids and space ships. Retro gives you green on black pixel graphics. Notebook Mode lets you play with graphics that look suspiciously like the doodles in my ninth grade Trapper Keeper. And for the truly Hard Core, there exists… Double Rainbow Mode. There are minor play differences in these modes to go along with the new scenery. In Retro, for instance, have up and down motion from the start.
I think what I love most about this game is the story. Once or twice, I have come up with a complex story for a simple game that doesn’t have one. That’s what Evil Robot Logic did with this. You are greeted with an epic, narrated prologue. It tells the tale of an ancient asteroid field that some believe is the doorway to the goods, the first ripple from the fountain head of existence. If you pick this game up, do yourself a favor and sit through the whole thing. Entertaining.
7.8 / 10. A creative and varied presentation of a fundamental game.
Like ADCM, Decimation X3 is a spin on an established game. In this case, it is Space Invaders. You are a tank that slides around along the bottom of the screen, and rows of oddly shaped creatures rain bullets down upon you, speeding up as you wipe them out. Also, there are shields that are slowly destroyed. That hits all of the notes of the notes for the original game.
The upgrades to this title are much more in the way of a logical progression, rather than elaborating the non-gameplay elements as ADCM did. The graphics are reminiscent of Geometry Wars; simple and retro, with clearly visible pixels, yet with graphical effects to pretty things up. Rather than simply having your little “pyoo pyoo” laser, your guns are upgradable in firing speed, spread, etc, via power ups that come out of destroyed enemies, ala arkanoid. Even your shields can be refreshed with a collected power up, which is good news, since the sheer volume of incoming munitions becomes mind boggling. Another addition to gameplay is, once again, the boss fight. I’m not sure why, but I always seem to enjoy a game more when it occasionally throws a massive uber-monster at me, and DX3 has me covered. I also tend to enjoy things more when I can get friends involved, and from the looks of it, 4 player simultaneous is an option. Unfortunately, the rest of my crew was off living lives of excitement and intrigue, so I couldn’t partake. No matter. Even solo, the game is plenty fun. The controls are simple and responsive, and things move into frantic panic pretty quickly. Plus, the Arcade Style presentation means that as soon as I start it up, people get to see my name at the top of the high score list. Take THAT!
8.1 / 10 The next logical progression of the Space Invaders game-type.
The standard method to do more with less, which is essential when doing an indie game, is to gain replay potential by producing a simple, refined, quick in, quick out experience. In other words, make a casual game. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. It can still produce a very fun, very worthwhile game, but the people behind Chu’s Dynasty had something else in mind for their title. Their game is many things, but simple is certainly not one of them.
In essence, Chu’s Dynasty is a fighting game. The stages are similar to those you might find in Super Smash Bros., with a handful of plaforms over a bottomless pit. From a distance, the gameplay seems similar, too. It isn’t. Aside from a health bar, you have a ki bar and a time power bar. One fills as you take damage, one fills as you deliver damage. Each can be used to execute special maneuvers, but it isn’t so simple as filling up the bars until you can unleash hell. Everything is steeped in strategy. A full ki bar, for instance, reduces the damage you take, so you should think twice about spending it all willy nilly. You also get a limited number of “Energy Form Escapes” that let you dodge moves and adopt a new position. Then there are the wildly creative time powers. Each of the four characters is able to manipulate time in a unique way. This ranges from rewinding maneuvers to undo mistakes, recording maneuvers to be replayed at a later time, creating duplicates of yourself, or even creating portals between different points on the level. You’ve got training, gameplay, and versus modes, and you get what you expect from them. The game is almost stunningly complex, and that is simultaneously a great strength and a huge problem. You see, the learning curve is utterly unforgiving. With such depth of gameplay, even after reading through the instructions thoroughly, I simply couldn’t get the hang of it. In Smash Bros., you can net a win early on by mashing the buttons, and later you can start to grip the nuances of each player. With Chu’s Dynasty I was pitiful against the computer on all but the lowest difficulty levels. If you want to enjoy this game, expect to spend some time getting good at it.
The graphics are gorgeous. Cut scenes are shown story book style, detailing the exceptional plot about the clashes that occur in a world where mortals and immortals exist side by side, and each screen is a masterpiece. The animation in the gameplay is limited, only a few frames per maneuver, but each one almost looks hand painted. The music high quality, a settting-appropriate Eastern soundtrack that sets the mood. In terms of presentation, this game sets a new bar for production value.
Everything about it is superb. The only thing keeping the score out of the high nines is the inaccessibility to first time players. If you are anything like me, you might find yourself getting frustrated. For more skilled players, though, this game could easily find a place in tournament play.
8.8 / 10 Stunning graphics, excellent story, complex gameplay, but very steep learning curve.
That’s it for this week. Check back here when the next round of games releases, and we’ll let you know what we think!