Spelunky XBLA footage

This video, from Indie Game: The Movie, has the first video footage of the Xbox Live Arcade version of one of our favorite PC games, Spelunky.

HEADCRABBED from IndieGame: The Movie on Vimeo.

I can’t wait for this one!

How Weak I’ve Become

Whenever I intend on buying an XBLA game, I always download the demo first, no matter how sure I am that I will love the title. This is to avoid contributing to the many “I think this game was going to be like this, but it was like that!” posts that I see on gaming-related forums. No matter how sure I am of a game’s quality, I always try the demo first.

Except for Perfect Dark.

I’m not sure what possessed me to skip that step. It isn’t like I have to redownload the game after trying the demo. Buying the full version of an XBLA game from the demo is pretty easy and quick to do.

Luckily, Perfect Dark is just as great as it was when I played in on my N64 all those years ago. I haven’t finished it yet, so I won’t be writing a review right now, but I wanted to mention how much more difficult this game is when compared to modern FPS games. I don’t mean in terms of the AI, but in how little guidance the game gives you.

While walking through the Carrington Institute (the hub area that missions are launched from), I couldn’t figure out how to actually begin a mission. None of the terminals were lit up or had a floating button above it or any sort of indication of what to do with them, so I assumed I couldn’t interact with them. That isn’t the case at all; most of them can be used in some way. I just had to hit the A button. In the years since I have played Perfect Dark, I had forgotten about that.

I was off on my first mission. After infiltrating dataDyne’s tower, I saw a light switch on the wall. “Hmm… what happens if I hit A on it?” I hit the button, and the lights went out. I pulled down on the left analog, moving away from the wall. All of a sudden, I was lost. There was no way to get back to the switch, forcing me to restart the mission.

During the three missions that take place in the tower, I learned the following:

  • Joanna’s health will not regenerate.
  • There are no maps to guide me.
  • There are no checkpoints, so when I die, I start the mission all over again.
  • The game will not auto-select items for me; if I need the Data Uplink to hack into a computer, and I don’t think to use it, then I will be stuck until I figure it out.
  • As mentioned before, anything I can interact with will not be called out in any special way, forcing me to figure it out on my own.

The more I play this game, the more I realize that modern FPSes (and games in general) have all these crutches in them that I have come to rely on, and I am a “softer” gamer as a result. I plan on playing through Perfect Dark a few times. I hope to finish it on Perfect Agent difficultly; a feat I was never able to accomplish in the N64 version. Perhaps this game will toughen me up a bit.

On a related note, the auto-aim feature is insane. Most FPSes will nudge the reticle a little to line up your shot. This game jerks the reticule halfway across the screen to make sure you hit your target. While it is a little much, it makes me feel like a secret agent when I one-shot a room full of dataDyne agents. I don’t recall the original doing anything like this.

Details of Spelunky XBLA Emerge

Spelunky is a Game You Should Play.

Kotkau has got some screenies up and a little more detail for the XBLA version of the title. This is a Day One purchase for me.

This Game You Should Play: Spelunky

I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

Spelunky is spunky. Get ready for some rambling…Collect gold. Throw objects. Rescue women. Steal idols. Jump. Run. Fall. Throw women. Blow up caves. Buy items. Sacrifice women. Steal items. Die. Die. Die…and die again.

This is only the tip of what can be done with Derek Yu’s wonderful Windows masterpiece. If you think it, you can probably do it. Of course all of this is wrapped up in 8-bit graphics, sound, and music. Nostalgia wins big time here.

Death is something that happens frequently in this game. In many cases, it’s one hit one kill. Taking its cue form rogue-like games every gameplay session is random–and difficult. The fact that it’s different every time possibly is what makes this game so much fun. Frustrating at times, but fun.

The catch? Letting yourself go. Enjoy the experience. This is not a game you play to beat. It’s a game you play to play. Although it doesn’t have much of a narrative, there are little bits of humor in the various enemies, worlds, weapons, and items our hero can carry. Need some awesome swag and the store owner is selling to high. Kill him and take it all. Good luck though. It’s one of the more difficult things to do in the game.

Rescuing damsels in distress can net you one coveted health point via a simple kiss. However, sacrificing her to a god can get you a valuable item that makes gameplay easier. Of course, you can use her to spring traps as well. Let her absorb the arrow.

The point of the game is to descend deeper and deeper into a cave netting gold, gems, and idols along the way. Stealing an idol sets off an Indiana Jones boulder run. Getting to the next level with it nets major money.

There’s gold in them thar hills!

This game is difficult and brutal but it can be beaten. There are even a few challenges and secrets along the way. Just keep playing. The desire to won’t be hard after you’ve given it a spin.

It’s available right now on Windows for FREE and has become somewhat of an internet sensation. Derek is hoping to ride that success over to the consoles as he plans to release an XBLA version sometime this year.

He already has my gold.

Everybody loves donuts!

Everybody loves donuts! I knew before I even fired my first shot that Shadow Complex would be a game I would purchase today. Mmm. Donuts! Vroom Vroom CRASH! Auuuggh.(This post would not be as confusing if you are remotely aware of some of the latest XBLA offerings).

Want to Play Fez?

fez

We’ve been waiting a little while for this title and it appears that we’re going to have to wait at least six more months.

What is Fez? Well, it’s a 2.5D game that we’ve mentioned before (video at the link) that simply looks amazing. Since the trailer release I’ve added Polytron’s blog to my Google Reader (everyone should be using that) waiting for any type of news.

It’s a platform-side-scroller that rotates into a third dimension to perform special moves and gain access into all sorts of areas. Just watch the video.

Here’s hoping it shows up on PSN and PC.

[2 Minute Review] A Kingdom For Keflings

How can a game that has absolutely zero conflict compete in today’s hyperviolent market?

Typical Screen

Welcome to the most relaxing game of 2008.

DO: Take a scrubby patch of land and transform it into a thriving kingdom.

TYPE: Building/Resource Management

PLATFORM: XBLA

PRICE: 800 MS Points

MEAT: You are a giant in the land of the Keflings, strange little people who want nothing more than to do your bidding. The entire game consists of you ordering the Keflings to harvest resources which can be used to construct a staggering variety buildings. The ultimate goal of the game is to build a castle but getting there can take anywhere from 8-12 hours. It’s one of those games where you can pop in for a few minutes to build one building or spend hours just chilling while you watch your kingdom flourish. This game was so addictive that I’d find myself pulled away from AAA titles like Mirror’s Edge or Left 4 Dead to get back to my kingdom. It is a perfect tonic for those times when you get frustrated and need a break from the more hectic gameplay of straight-up action games.

PERKS: An amazing guitar soundtrack; using your avatar; being able to kick the Keflings around the map (and get an achievement for it).

SCREAMS: For a camera that can be rotated 360 degrees; for a camera that will stay where you put it instead of snapping back into the default isometric view; for a better way to keep track of what building components have been used in a given blueprint so that you don’t make 30 reading rooms by accident.

VERDICT: Buy. This game may be a little TOO relaxing for every gamer, but take the demo for a spin to see if it is for you. In this day of hyperviolence and gore dripping from every corner of the screen, it is nice to see a game pride itself on its lack of conflict. Just make sure you aren’t tired when you play the game as the soundtrack will lull you to sleep.

In My Hands

On my hard drive: Geometry Wars 2

Also thinking about getting into my hands: Braid, Bionic Commando, Galaga Legions