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10 Xbox 360 Indie Games You Need To Play

As is often the case with Indie games, there is a feeling of unpolished projects that have potential but rarely have the ability to hold our attention and interests for more than a week.
However, sometimes there are a few select gems that rise to the top and manage to breakthrough with innovative and exceptional game concepts. Besides, everyone can always use a break from the inexhaustible flow of first person shooters that eventually seem to blur together and become indistinguishable.
Here’s our list of 10 Indie games that are worthy of your attention and your dollars.
1. Miner Dig Deep
2. I Maed a Gam3 W1th Zombies 1n it!!!1
3. Zombie Estate
4. Arkedo Series: 03 – Pixel!
5. The Impossible Game
6. Soulcaster
7. Johnny Platform Saves Xmas!
8. Tobe’s Vertical Adventure
9. Masters of Belial
10. Crossfire

Developer: Robir
Genre: Arcade
MSPoint Cost: 80
ESRB Rating: N/A
Release Date: April 2009

Miner Dig Deep is an action & adventure game with elements of puzzles in it. You play as an adorable little miner who’s been tasked with the job of cultivating the local mine. You start with nothing but a small little kerosene lantern that shines very little light, a loot pouch and a pickax.

Dig and expand your mine to find greater treasures from the depths. Build the deepest mine so you can make your fortune in rare gems and metals from the earth below. Upgrade and expand your equipment to allow you to reach new depths, shine brighter lights from your lantern and break through tougher soil with bigger more powerful axes and drills.
The visuals are simplistic but pleasing and the melodic soundtrack features guitar riffs reminiscent of a more playful 90’s grunge riffs.
When it comes to originality, Miner Dig Deep isn’t breaking any new ground. Many will find it similar to games like Dig Dug or Mr. Driller, as well as a few other flash games. But there’s something about this game that makes it feel remarkably fresh. It’s crazy addictive and sure to keep you coming back for more subterranean adventure time and time again. Trust me you’ll dig it.

Developer: Ska Studios
Genre: Shooter
MSPoint Cost: 80
ESRB Rating: N/A
Release Date: July 2009

There’s one thing I can say about this: regardless of how you feel about the gameplay, you will love the theme song. Its tongue-in-cheek approach is absurdly funny and guaranteed to have been turned into a ringtone by gamers across the globe.
Zombies and video games have a long-standing relationship and while this Indie blockbuster chose not to reinvent the wheel, it did borrow gameplay mechanics from games like Geometry Wars.
It’s a top-down twin stick shooter that was designed by James Silva – previously best know for the Xbox Live Arcade game The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.

Purchased over 160,000 times in 2009, and netting James Silva a whopping $112,000, it’s currently one of the top-ranked Indie games on Xbox Live.
Take on an onslaught of zombies as you repel their advances with an arsenal of weapon choices like machines guns, rocket launchers, laser beams, and my personal choice for mowing down the undead – the flamethrower.
For 80 points, this is a gem that belongs in every gamer’s library.

Developer: JeremyVerchick48
Genre: shooter
Game Rating: Unrated
Players: 1-4
MSPoint Cost: 80

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Indie game marketplace is flooded with Zombie titles. However, amongst all these titles, this well-rounded wave-based shooter is the only one that has potential to dethrone the original zombie king (the above mentioned James Silva game).
Zombie Estate is easily recognizable by its signature 8-bit-esque graphical theme. Characters are pixilated and the maps feature a 2.5D aroma. Zombie Estate also boasts one of the best multiplayer experiences in the Indie marketplace. As is the case with most zombie themed games, the mood is a mix of semi-serious and comical – never taking itself too seriously. As you strategically defend your property against hordes of attacking zombies, the difficulty will initially be slow and rather vapid but be prepared for this to change quickly as you progress. 4 player support over Xbox Live as well as split screen options combine to make this game almost perfect.
It’s games like this that make us thankful for the Indie marketplace, a place that – with titles like Zombie Estate – is becoming a haven for fun and engaging games at discount Indie prices.

Developer: Arkedo
Genre: Platformer
Game Rating: Unrated
Players: 1
MSPoint Cost: 240

Arkedo is an indie studio who decided a while back that they would go above and beyond by creating a new game every month. One of the results of this endeavor was the third game in the series: Pixel.
Pixel is a retro-styled platformer with simplistic gameplay, although, it does have its unique characteristics, like zooming in on certain pixels to find hidden treasures and unlocking new areas of the maps.
It’s hard not to like Pixel, the protagonist in the game is an affable little cat making his way across straightforward but attractively soothing environments made up of gorgeous blue toned pixels. The blue hues create vibrant and eye-catching surroundings that seem to jump off the screen.
Gameplay is made up of your standard Super Mario Bros game: side-scrolling from A to B, jumping on your enemies to defeat them and powering up basic abilities – like the delightful “Meow” attack. And while all this sounds rather bland, believe me, this is a clear case of less is more. Arkedo takes these simple features and really makes them work into a fun and enjoyable experience. Pixel is a refreshing take on a genre that, at times, can seem worn out and tired. Arkedo breathes some fresh air into this genre with a great combination of back-to-basics gameplay and unique aesthetics.

Developer: FlukeDude
Genre: Platformer
MSPoint Cost: 80
Release Date: November 2009
Players: 1

At first glance it’s difficult what to make of The Impossible game. Was the creator trying to be sardonic or is this the real deal, the most impossible game you’ll ever play? For 80 MSP, I’d say absolutely.

The Impossible takes platforming back to its genesis. It’s not quite Pong but the look and mechanics are as minimalistic as you can get. You play as a red block (exciting I know, but stay with me) and the object of the game is to jump over and onto other blocks of similar sizes as yourself, while trying to avoid strings of sporadic spikes. And while this is happening the screen automatically urges you forward at a fairly quick pace – there is no turning back! You only really use one button, the A button to jump. (Hint: you can hold down A to jump you don’t always have to repeatedly tap it) The Y button will allow you to plant flags or checkpoint markers along the way wherever you choose so you won’t have to start from the beginning when you fail. (And you will!).
And the LB and RB allow you to switch back and for between the flags you’ve planted.

The Impossible Game may not be impossible but it can be utterly infuriating, and in 8 out of 10 attempts cause you to have uncontrollable outbursts of anger (controller chuckers beware).

The Impossible Game will test your patience, require quick reactions and swift thinking as well as put your memory to the test. There’s no dying in this game but it does count and track your attempts. Once that number starts to hit around 180-220 attempts, it’s almost like a slap in the face and the game makes no effort to hide these stats as they are clearly displayed in big white numbers on the center of the screen.

For only $1 there isn’t much you can complain about with this game, it’s extremely challenging yet simplistically beautiful. Besides, think of all the things you waste a dollar on every day, why not take that money and help support the little guy.

Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Genre: Action & Adventure
MSPoint Cost: 240
Release Date: March 2010
Players: 1

Games like Soulcaster are perfect examples of why the Indie marketplace is so important as an avenue for ushering in fresh blood into the game scene. Young new developers who are and not afraid to take retro-styled games and breath new life into them.
Unforgiving and addictive gameplay was that staple of all the early great NES games.

This game is straight up 1980’s. From the cheesy chiptunes, to the heavily pixilated 16-bit graphics, right down to the oddly amusing and nostalgic coded password save feature.

You play as a young Wizard who grows to become a Soulcaster. Although he can’t fight for himself, he does have the ability to summon the heroes of Yore to fight for him. You can place these warriors on the battlefield by temporarily allocating a Soul Orb to them; (this is tower-defense aspect comes into the game). Your start with a long archer, but will quickly gain the aid of a devoted knight and an alchemist; each hero is also independently upgradeable. Advancement and success will depend on your planning and ability to place your heroes in the best and most strategically beneficial positions that will allow you to keep your protagonist alive, or else it’s game over.

Games can be saved by writing down passwords after each level and the game also features a Hardcore mode for seasoned Tower Defense vets. Soulcaster offers up dozens of monsters, each with different attributes. Some being fast and fragile, while others are slow and powerful. In addition these creatures will come at you in combinations, forcing you to prioritize your targets and choose your actions carefully in order to ensure your success.
The style of this game is an ode to generations past, right down to the 4:3 aspect ration. Don’t let the old school look of this great game turn you off, as there is much fun and engaging gameplay to be had.

Developer: IshiEiketsu
Genre: Platformer
MSPoint Cost: 240
Release Date: December 2009
Players: 1

This Indie platformer adds a little festive fun to your game library. However, don’t let the Christmas overtones and holiday cheer fool you, this is a stellar game that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Johnny Platform Saves Xmas (JPSX) is the sequel to one of the Indie Marketplace’s first popular titles: Craig Forrester’s Johnny Platform’s Biscuit Romp (back when it was called Community Games)
The game features a whopping 100 levels, and your mission is to play as the caffeine depraved Johnny Platform as he sets out to save Christmas. The goal of each level is to collect coffee mugs, destroy robots and reach the exit. Players will need logic and skill to make their way successfully through the 100 levels, that admittedly, start out a little slow but after, oh say, level 24, the developers will begin tossing numerous curveballs at you to keep you on your toes. Precision and timing will be the difference between saving Christmas and becoming a cooked ham.
JPSX is displayed in beautiful widescreen high definition. The crisp graphics and smooth vertical and horizontal transitions are superbly done for an indie game. The culmination of IshiEiketsu’s efforts is showcased in the uncanny attractiveness of this games audio. The soundtrack and character voice work provide gamers with a discourteous and comical experience.
A must have. Much like a fine cup of quality-brewed java, this game should be savored and returned to on those long, cold, lonely nights when we seek escape and mirth. Go get this game.

Developer: Rayteoactive
Genre: Retroactive-Platformer
MSPoint Cost: 240
Release Date: January 2010
Players: 1-2

I know what you’re probably thinking: “another platformer? Dude, is that all the Indie scene has to offer?”
Fans of Cave Story, La Mulana or Spelunky, should already be intrigued and ready to sink their teeth into this title.
Tobe’s Vertical Adventure is another platformer, but it puts an interesting and creative spin on the classic 2D genre. The game combines unique and charming storytelling techniques with fresh and creative level designs that pull you in; it’s not your average indie game experience.

Controls in the game are minimal and simplistic, although at times frustrating when mixed with certain game mechanics. One of the games most compelling aspects is the various changes and manipulations that occur to various levels. Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of a certain level, collected all the treasures, the journey up to the top is not always the same, as levels will begin to transform, forcing players to keep an eye on the time limit as they quickly find the fastest way back up to the top.

Tobe’s Vertically Adventure is a stellar choice for any platforming fan. It embodies a wonderful combination of challenging gameplay with graphically charming level designs. And does all this with seemingly relative ease. It’s a well-polished and creative venture with solid replayability that is well worth your time.

Developer: Argi Baltzi
Genre: Role Playing
MSPoint Cost: 400
Release Date: March 2010
Players: 1-2

I have to say this: I’ve covered and played my fair share of indie games, and as I mentioned before, there is a sense that “indie”, equates to unfinished or rough and clumsy. Despite being an indie, the gameplay and music in Masters of Belial will give gamers the feeling of a “big publisher” game.
Master of Belial is an action strategy arena type game that takes place in the ancient mythical land of Azgoth. It features dark melancholy environments, fantasy lore and a wide array of heroes to choose from. What the game lacks in its faulty combat system it makes up for in appealing artwork and presentation.

The plot of the game is that long ago there was an ancient race of Angels who began masquerading as sentient beings and through the their manipulation of the lands most powerful kings, they established a system of control on the planet.
After thousands of years of supremacy a group of heretics discovered the true evil that has plagued their world and decided to put an end to it. Summoning the aid of the powerful Daemon King Belial the truth seekers open a portal to the demonic realms and release the imprisoned Daemons to the world in the hopes to destroy the angels and bring peace back to their lands.

Developer: RadianGames
Genre: Shooter
MSPoint Cost: 240
Release Date: July 2010
Players: 1-2

You might recognize the name Radiangames as a developer who has already proven themselves to be Indie superstars with JoyJoy, which was a Top 6 Finalist in Dream Build Play 2010. Determined to keep up their reputation, they created Crossfire. Admittedly, at first glance, Crossfire seems to be nothing more than a simple, neon, Space Invaders/Geometry Wars clone. But don’t let the look fool you. Crossfire adds its own new and unique twist.

In Crossfire, enemies spawn in the center of the screen, but unlike Galaga or Space Invaders they don’t progress down the screen towards you. Instead, they assault you with a barrage of bullets both downwards and upwards, and while you are restricted to 1-D movement, Crossfire adds a unique ability to transfer instantaneously from the bottom of the screen to the top with the touch of a button, allowing you to catch the enemy – you guessed it, in a crossfire.

Your primary weapon has unlimited ammo, but collecting purple orbs from vanquished enemies can be used to power up a stronger attack, which makes chump change of the enemy mob.
The gameplay is never stochastic and as you progress, bigger, stronger and more difficult foes will emerge. And should you find the regular mode to simplistic, the Turbo mode will put even the best gamers to the test.

Single player or co-op modes are available and the action is intense, innovative and challenging. Although there is no global leaderboard, the $3 price-tag can’t be beat. Highly recommend this fun and addictive indie.

2 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Great list. Will you doing are review of arcade games in the future

    • Jesse Ouimet says:

      Yes we will. We’re in the process of relaunching and redesigning the site. Once that is up and running fully we’ll get back to reviewing. Right now we’re focusing on news while we rework things.

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