Xbox Live Indie Games: Winter Uprising: The SHMUPs

IGWU Reviews: The SHMUPs

This time I’m going to focus more of the SHMUPs that are part of the Indie Games: Winter Uprising. I’m talking about Shoot ’em Up style games, controlling a ship and shooting waves of enemies. A niche genre that has found a welcome home in the Indie Games service with some notable SHMUPs of varying styles being released since the very first days of the service. The Winter Uprising adds several more to the service, how do these measure up?

Hypership Out of Control
Developer: Fun Infused Games
Genre: SHMUP
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)

Hypership is a vertical scrolling shooter; the Out of Control part of the game title is because while you start off at a slower speed, the speed of the ship quickly increases. The game is less Shoot ’em Up as it is just trying to dodge everything and shoot a path in front of your ship. It’s all the fun of driving with no breaks without all the concern about how high your insurance rates will be later. The game can be played solo or co-op, high score lists, ten waves to play through and five different modes. The normal mode is just to see how long you can survive, along with what kind of score you can drive up. There’s a Hardcore Mode to see how far you can get on one life, a Super Speed Mode where the speed doesn’t max out and just keeps increasing, Coin Down, where you bleed out coins and have to keep getting more (run out and it’s game over), and a Practice Mode. All of this along with 20 different ‘awardments’ which are unlocked for obtaining specific goal.

This game was actually released awhile ago, and with the Indie Games: Winter Uprising the game has received an update to add some changes, like the ability to play the waves in reverse and a new high score lists for the reverse waves, and some other title updates and fixes. The graphics and sounds are intentionally retro and fit the game well.

For a dollar the game is pretty much a complete experience, co-op, different modes, online high score lists, and so on. The game also happens to be a lot of fun. There’s a certain thrill on trying to see how far you can get each time, and the multiple modes/reverse waves keep the simple experience from getting stale too quickly. While it may not be a brand new title, if you have not yet tried Hypership Out of Control, get on it, it is one of the better Indie Games available.

Recommendation: Buy

Break Limit
Developer: Zombie Monkey Games
Genre: SHMUP
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)

Break Limit is a game that gives thanks to the inspiration for the idea to Hypership Out of Control. The similarities between the two games are obvious, both include ships where acceleration and dodging are key elements of the game. That is also where the similarities end, as the developer of Break Limit throws some other ideas into the mix.

Instead of accelerating out of control, in Break Limit there is a bar that increases when gather glowing powerups that fill a bar in the upper left corner. This is the Break Limit. Triggering the Break Limit will increase your ships speed while also making it invincible. This sets up a great risk vs reward system in the game. Do you go for the health icons or the Break Limit orbs? Do you activate it right away or do you wait to see if the game is going to throw a wall of asteroids at you in a minute? When you do activate it do you dive through a wall to go for a higher score or play it safe? It’s these questions that will come to mind while playing the game, only you have the blink of an eye to answer them.

The game looks really polished for a Indie Game as well. Everything from the menus to the levels look sleek and well designed. There are three different systems to play through, each with branching paths that flip the game from vertical scrolling to horizontal scrolling, much like the levels in another Indie SHMUP called Shoot 1UP. There are global leader boards for each system/difficulty level. People are getting the hang of the game pretty quickly though, I was in the top ten for a couple of days, now I don’t think I’m in the top fifty anymore. On top of the leaderboards, the game also adds your score to an overall score it keeps track of to unlock different ship abilities (such as extra defense), sort of like gaining experience and leveling up in a role playing game.

While Break Limit might not have the multiple game modes of the game that inspired it, the risk/reward of gathering energy and using the Break Limit in addition to everything that is happening on screen and the occasional shift in perspective makes Break Limit an incredibly fun game that I enjoy even more that Hypership Out of Control. If you like challenging SHMUPs I’d definitely recommend grabbing this title.

Recommendation: Buy

Decimation X3
Developer: XONA Games
Genre: SHMUP
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)

Decimation X3 is the sequel to the Indie Game Decimation X (with X2 being available for Windows7 phones). It is also perhaps the most disappointing of the Winter Uprising titles to me, including Asteroids Do Concern Me. Decimation X was a good game, the best way to describe it would be to say it was like Space Invaders on crack. Of course Space Invaders Extreme is also like Space Invaders on crack, but Decimation X was certainly a cheaper alternative to SI Extreme and a fun game on it’s own right.

Decimation X3 is pretty much Decimation X. The graphics are slightly improved, but since the game has extremely simple graphics that isn’t saying much. The game is still waves of enemies that move left to right and back in a group and rain down death. As you kill the enemy they drop lower and move faster. Like I said, Space Invaders. The biggest difference is in difficulty, as the waves of enemies send down a hail of bullet death with each pass, and when you kill enemies you gain different power ups. You can also play co-op with three other players at the same time. Exactly like Decimation X.

X3 adds some bosses, which are actually easier that most of the clouds of enemies. The waves of enemies also start in a different position than from Decimation X. As far as I can tell those are the biggest changes aside from some minor aesthetic changes, like having a bar at the bottom of the screen with XONA Games name on it.

I just don’t understand why this title was selected at all to be a part of the Winter Uprising. The game is a clone of Space Invaders. Hell it’s a clone of Decimation X. Hypership Out of Control was just an update on the title and it added more than this supposed sequel. It doesn’t even have global scoreboards. XONA Games also recently released Score Rush which sounds like a fun game and a better fit into what the Winter Uprising is attempted to accomplish.

If you own Decimation X, don’t buy X3. If you do not have the original, this ‘sequel’ is the same price as the original so you might as well just get X3 if you are interested.

Recommendation: Avoid.

Crossfire 2
Developer: radiangames
Genre: SHMUP
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)

Xbox Indie Games program has shown us that there are a lot of people who are trying to develop game but are just unsure of how to approach the service. Do you try and create the next big thing? Or use something that seems popular? There is a small group of developers who are consistently delivering great, cheap games on the service. One of those developers are radiangames. Check out any of their games and they’re usually various quick, easy to pick up an play shooters that look and play like a professionally made product. Any single radiangame is worth the price.

Crossfire 2 is no exception to the great library of radiangames. Like Decimation X3 the roots of Crossfire 2 can be found in a game like Space Invaders. There are wave of enemies that shuffle back and forth in the middle of the screen. Unlike either of those games in Crossfire 2 you can move back and forth along the bottom of the screen, or warp to the top of the screen and shoot downwards. This is taken full advantage of in wave design as some enemies will shoot downwards then flip and shoot upwards, or can only be attacked from above or below.

That was also how the original Crossfire game played. Crossfire 2 increases the size of all the ships, adds more effects and changes to an experience point system. There are multiple modes, Conquest, Co-op Conquest, and Score Attack. At the beginning of any mode you get a certain amount of points to spread out among different stats, such as health, speed, power of shots, and so on. Instead of lives, there’s health. In Conquest every couple of waves you get more points to adjust your stats with. Score Attack you get more points from the outset and assign them and try to survive.

Crossfire was a fun game and Crossfire 2 is even better. The waves are better balanced and more interesting than in the first game and the changes make the whole game feel smoother and more fluid than ever. This is not an 8 hour long game, but Crossfire 2 is a game you can play over and over again and have fun every time. Like every radiangame, it’s a dollar well spent.

Recommendation: Buy.



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