Community Games: The Shooter Genre
Developer: Novaleaf Software
Biology Battle is a top down shooter that is most similar to another Xbox Live Arcade offering, Geometry Wars. In Biology Battle you control a ship, which is meant to represent an advancement in medical nano-technology. The are you play in is designed to look like a giant cell, and the enemies are different types of viruses. One of the first things you’ll notice when playing Biology Battle is just how slick everything looks. You wouldn’t be able to tell from just the sheer polish put into everything from the menus to the graphics that this was an independently created game.
Biology Battle controls just like Geometry Wars or like Smash TV. Left joystick moves, right joystick shoots in the direction you push it. Right trigger sets of a larger area attack; left trigger gives the ship you control a burst of speed. The game has an interesting combo style system with the Life Mode and Death Mode. You start in Life Mode, trying to survive and rack up a multiplayer, once you’ve destroyed enough of a certain enemy you can switch to Death Mode, where there are much larger bonuses but the multiplier is set.
There are a couple of different other modes available to play through, the main one being a Global Challenge Mode. In this mode you have to try and work your way up the ranks by beating the scores of other competitors worldwide, and it is currently the only Community Game with such a feature that is accessible in the game. The game also features co-op, and one of the more interesting features to me about the game is the fact that you can assign a different difficulty level to each other 4 co-op players. There are also several multiplayer modes, such a Frog Hop, where it’s a race to clear certain gates.
One of the great things about the game is the interesting enemy variety. There are some enemies that grow and unless you defeat them quickly will start to block a lot of the screen, which will make escaping other enemies more difficult. Trying to manage the different enemies on screen is tense due to the speed the game runs at and with practice you’ll find yourself narrowly boosting out of tight situations. As a balance to the tense gameplay are occasional funny lines for when you do die.
While there is no achievement support, the game features Trophy support, which are just additional challenges to clear and add a little more longevity to the game. Unfortunately Biology Battle is largely being ignored because of its price point at 800 points. While there is some skepticism about the quality of some of the Community Games, I can understand that some gamers might be wary about spending that many points on a game. However I fully feel that Biology Battle is equal, or better than many original Arcade games and is certainly worth downloading the trail if you are even remotely a fan of this style of game.
NOTICE: The developer of Biology Battle is hosting a contest challenging people to get specific Global Challenge rankings, see additional info at the official homepage for the game.
Galax-e-mail is a deceptive looking game. If you look at screenshots of the game it certainly doesn’t look that impressive, it looks like something that might’ve been offered on the PC 20 years ago. Galax-e-mail is built on the weird idea of delivering email through space. Not sure why you’d need to deliver email unless your cousin in Venus only has dial-up, but you’ll control a ship and occasionally ships through what I think are randomly generated levels full of enemies and powerups.
Sometimes a simple idea is also the one that is the most fun. Galax-e-mail is a prime example of that since it’s not really flashy, but it’s simply just fun. The game present a very creative way of deciding difficulty level, after a stage the game will pause and then ask you if you how you felt about the difficulty level. If you decide that it was too easy Galax-e-mail ramps up the challenge. Seems like such a novel idea to actually ask the player how hard they want the next area to be doesn’t it?
Galax-e-mail. Simple, fun and 200 points.
Developer: Brandon Bloom
Another shooter that is similar to Geometry Wars is Rift. Unlike Biology Battle, Rift would appear at first to just be a slightly tacky looking Geometry Wars clone. Except there’s a twist, in Rift you can pause time. If a horde of enemies becomes too overwhelming you can stop time fire off a bunch of shots, unstop time and watch your bullets fly everywhere.
It’s a cool concept, but the game sort of lacks in the tense excitement found in these types of games and it lacks the polish that you would find in other games. The enemy patterns are repetitive, and the graphics aren’t that great. But at 200 points it’s not a bad deal, so if this type of game is your thing it’s worth a trial.
The story behind Pastry Wars is that a baker wanted to make himself some friends, with evil results. Now his kitchen is being taken over by a pastry menace and it’s up to the cook to defeat the evil cakes, pies, etc.
Honestly I’m mostly adding this one for the same reason I played it. It’s a completely ridiculous concept. Pastry Wars plays a lot like Space Invaders, only instead of aliens, it’s cupcakes, and cakes, and pies. They shoot cookies. The chef shoots what looks like stars back at them with a magic wand. Unless Harry Potter happens to be the chef I’m not sure I understand this design idea. While the idea is cute, overall Pastry Wars is a bad attempt at a Space Invaders clone. The game runs like a Flash game, the art is interesting but animates and moves poorly, and there’s no real challenge.
It’s 200 points, but there’s no real reason to buy this after playing the demo for just curiosities sake.
A Kitchen Sink War
Developer: ECHS BACH
A Kitchen Sink War pisses me off.
With only one or two other exceptions, A Kitchen Sink War is probably the laziest attempt at creating a game on the whole Community Games service. In the game you get to choose to play either the Spoon or a Cup in either single player or multiplayer modes. The game takes place in a kitchen sink, with a suction pull towards the drain. In the game as either the glass or spoon the goal is to avoid the other dishes and the drain, and shoot the other player.
That’s right, as a spoon or cup you somehow shoot each other.
Saying there is a single player mode in this game is a lie since there is NO COMPUTER AI. If you play against the computer they’ll inevitably slide towards the drain until they die, over and over again. Either that or there is AI and it’s just incredibly depressed. The graphics are bad, the controls are bad, everything is bad about this. Playing a flash political cartoon is less painful of an experience than this game.
The reason this pisses me off is that someone might try that as their first Community Game and assume that they all suck as bad as this one. There is a motion going on to include player reviews of games, much like there are user reviews of videos for Youtube, and hopefully that will help players find some of the better games instead of stumbling onto crap like this. Use that 200 points on something else.