I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1
- Price: 80 Microsoft Points
Speaking of twin-stick shooters, here's a venerable Indie Games mainstay that deserves its lengthy stay in the Top Rated chart. Look past the deliberately obnoxious l33t-speak title and you'll find a pure arcade rush, a game that tips its hat to the glories of gaming past as it spirals off into alcopop-fuelled mania.
Heavily reminiscent of the equally bloodthirsty (though not quite as demented) Crimsonland, and making no secret of its hereditary debt to Robotron, you rattle around a large arena, keeping the encroaching undead at bay with a range of fun weaponry. At least, you do to start with.
As the impossibly catchy theme song warbles away, strobe lights flash, words flicker on the ground and suddenly you're battling the angular serpents from Snake. Later still, the music becomes ominous and you're transported to space where the game becomes a riff on Asteroids. And so the game goes, mutating just as you're settling into a rhythm, mixing and matching ideas and visuals from all over the place. You can also have up to four players, to placate your Gauntlet cravings.
Like any great three-minute, three-chord punk song, this is a celebration of the genius of mindlessness. You just blast and survive as long as you can, but that doesn't mean it's a slapdash affair. Control is pitch perfect, the pacing is excellent and there's a playful understanding of what makes a shooter appealing woven into every delirious minute. The lack of online leaderboards is a shame, since this is a high-score drive experience through and through, but it still offers a ridiculous amount of sugar-rush fun for such a low price.
Mithra: Episode 1, Chapter 1
- Price: 240 Microsoft Points
Easily one of the most visually impressive games on the channel, Mithra is a full 3D adventure game in the classic style. Guiding the captive alien Tag around the planet Gi, escape is your obvious aim, with a little help from the cute gelatinous blob, Vee.
Movement is a little stiff, and button prompts can be a touch fiddly to trigger as you wriggle around some of the smaller environments, but that's really the only clue that you're playing a homebrew game, so polished are the other features.
Clever inventory puzzles, NPC interactions, even a bit of physics - it's all in here, and delivered with full voice acting, no less. Developer Afiction Games has even included a surrogate Achievements system, along with unlockable goodies. Originally released at 400 Points, but now available for 240, it's an essential download for adventure game fans.
Sadly, it seems that financial woes have stymied production on the next instalment of this ambitiously epic tale, but don't let that put you off this often-brilliant opening section.