Xbox Live Indie Winter Uprising: Versus Mode

This time I’m focusing on the Winter Uprising multiplayer games:

Chu’s Dynasty
Developer: TribeToy
Genre: Fighting
Price: 240 MS Points

Chu’s Dynasty is the result of a two year effort by a small development team of three people. If I had to describe the game with one word, that word would be: Beautiful. Chu’s Dynasty is by far the best looking Xbox Live Indie Game, not only in terms of graphics and animation, but in the overall art design. The game looks like a Vanillaware game instead of something from an independent first time developer Tribetoy. Everything from the menu, to the still screens that tell the story, to the in game backgrounds and attack animations have a polished professional look. Hell, the game looks better than many Xbox Live Arcade games.

As you can tell I’ve focused a lot on how the game looks instead of how the game mechanics work. Part of that is because when you load the game up the first thing you will be amazed by is the graphical quality of the game. The other part of that is because the game is decent, but it is not going to blow you away with how much fun it is. The creators describe the game as a fighting game that is a cross between the strategic nature of something like Street Fighter while offering the multiplayer mayhem of Super Smash Bros. Unfortunately while trying to merge these different styles, the result is one that is successful as not being enjoyable as either.

There are four characters in the game, and that is the first of my disappointments. Part of the fun of a Street Fighter type game comes from the replayability of taking different fighters and mastering their moves. Here there are only four characters to master. At least their moves are different than each other, and they all have a fairly long list of different moves to learn to use. Then again that becomes an issue of its own, the reason you normally don’t see a long list of moves for each character for a Smash Bros. style game is because in the chaos it’s easier to focus on a few special moves that require simple input. In Chu’s Dynasty when four fighters are running around on the screen you will find yourself focusing on using a couple of simple moves that work well. Smash Bros livens things up with items/weapons, things that aren’t in Chu’s Dynasty. Street Fighter requires an accuracy, strategy and timing that go out the window in Chu’s Dynasty when things get hectic.

In the end the fighting is not chaotic enough for a fun party game and too chaotic to be able to have the strategy of a tightly balanced fighting game. Not that there isn’t fun to be had with Chu’s Dynasty. Each character is fun to play through the story mode with, and if you have three friends who enjoy similar games there’s fun to be had for an afternoon or two before you get tired of seeing the same four fighters have the same fights over and over again. There is no online play, which also disappointing because if you don’t have friends who are interested in this kind of game, that severely limits the appeal of Chu’s Dynasty. Like many fighting games there is more fun in fighting a human opponent versus the computer.

If the game sounds interesting at all, I implore you to at least download the demo. It is however hard to make a recommendation to buy the game when it costs three times the amount of most of the Indie Winter Uprising Games.

Recommendation: Try

ZP2KX: Zombies and Pterodactyls
Developer: Ska Studios
Genre: Multiplayer 2D Shooter
Price: 80 MS Points

Buy this game.

Seriously, stop reading this review and go buy this game. You can read the rest of the review, but you’d just be wasting the time that you could be buying this game.

Still here?

Alright, here’s why you should buy the game. It kicks ass. That not good enough? Well, it kicks a lot of ass. I hate to say this in a way that sounds demeaning to the rest of the Indie Games, but ZP2KX really should be an Xbox Live Arcade game if only so that more people can be exposed to it.

For background purposes ZP2KX is the third ZP2K game on the Indie Games service. ZP2K6 is sort of a Smash Bros style fighting game, it’s fun but limited and a bit rough around the edges. ZP2K9 was much different, it essentially was a variation of the popular online game SOLDAT, a popular 2D side scrolling multiplayer shooter where you run around on a 2D plane and try to shoot other folks. ZP2K9 was a fun variation of that style of game with the style of artwork that Ska Studios is known for.

ZP2KX takes that to another level. ZP2KX takes the SOLDAT formula and goes nuts with it. It takes the artwork and humor from Ska Studios other games and combines it with the addictive 2D multiplayer shooter and the perk system from the recent Call of Duty games. That’s a boring way of describing it though, to put it a better way, how many online games do you know where you can enter, choose a ninja class, the go ape-shit crazy with a sword before some other guy jet packs over your head then kills you with an AK47 that shoots cats instead of bullets.

That’s the kind of game ZP2KX is. The music is great, the graphics hold up with no slowdown even when there are effects like fire, poison, cats and rainbows exploding across the screen. The default controls take a moment to get used to, you move with the left joystick and shoot with the right like most shooters but it takes a moment to get used to doing so on a 2D plane. You can reload, roll, jump, jetpack, throw grenades with ease. The game also contains multiple modes, like a Zombie Hunt mode where you choose a side. Humans have weapons and can use jetpacks, also more health, but the whole screen is dark except for a small circle of light around your character. Zombies can see just fine, and can move fast, are strong, but also can be killed easily. It’s a great mode, and when you play as a human there’s an awesome feeling of knowing some zombies are out there, and you can see them but you know they can see you and they’re coming to get you, Barbara.

Sadly, most folks online appear to be mostly deathmatch obsessed. The online community at the moment isn’t particularly large, but there are always a couple of games running every night. If you’d like the game also allows you to play by yourself with some bots, and the experience points you gain that way contribute to your overall level and unlocks. There are plenty of levels and multiple perks, clothing and classes to unlock, some of which reference other games. ZP2KX is a game with a lot of humor, depth, and just pure multiplayer awesomeness to go around.

Here’s the killer: IT’S A DOLLAR. $1. 100 pennies. Go buy this right now.

Recommendation: BUY IT TWICE.



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