- Xbox Live Indie Games – 240 Microsoft Points (Ł2.04)
If you've been overindulging at the retro shooter banquet on Xbox Indie lately, I wouldn't blame you. There are some tasty treats to be had, especially from that otherworldly radiangames dude, who appears to be able to code in his sleep.
But while most shmups are content to refine what's gone before, CrossEaglet's revved-up psychedelic offering is a side-scroller with a literal twist. The game allows you to spin the game world on its axis by using the left or right shoulder buttons.
At first, this appears to simply offer you another way to avoid being shot. For example, what was once a horizontal wall of death quickly becomes an easy-to-dodge vertical line once you've spun yourself around 90 degrees.
But once you start chasing high scores in the game's Short Range mode, spinning around becomes less about avoidance and more about understanding how to rack up massive combos. Line up a gaggle of enemies in front of you and you can blast them in one go with your laser and build up your multiplier. The higher your multiplier, the better your score, and the better the rank.
Avoiding getting hit is equally crucial, though, as taking damage knocks down the multiplier – so memorising the patterns becomes all-important, as these developer videos demonstrate. In the Infinite mode, you also have a limited health bar to worry about, so staying the hell away from enemies becomes even more crucial.
Revolver360 certainly isn't perfect, but you could never accuse it of being dull. With its restless visual overload played out to insistent electronica, it's a wonder that your battered senses can cope.
Originally destined for WiiWare, Nicalis evidently decided that its brooding physics puzzler would be better appreciated by PC players. Lucky them.
Basically identical in concept to the similarly engaging and tricky iOS gem Trundle, the premise is to chivvy an 'enigmatic sphere' through a series of similarly mysterious locales.
The main difference with NightSky is the degree of control you're given over Mr Blobby. Whereas Trundle relied entirely on tilt, Nicalis opts for a rather more flexible method, with various additional abilities that swap in and out depending on the level.
Sometimes, for example, you'll need to boost the blob along an incline and slingshot it around the curvature of a wall to reach a platform. Other times you'll roll onto a skateboard and need to stop in your tracks, or reverse gravity to avoid being impaled.
As is the way with these things, it's not enough for NightSky to simply be atmospheric, charming and ethereal; it has to bare its teeth and turn into a right sod, just at the point when you're telling everyone how much you love it.
But if you can break through the periodic pain barrier that comes with such exacting physics-based challenges, you'll be able to bask in the warm glow of manly gaming satisfaction. And with around six hours' worth of it to roll through, it'll put hairs on your chest. Not so good if you're a lady, obviously.