The Basics Developer: Ska Studios Genre: Twin Stick Shooter Platform: Xbox Live Indie Games Cost: 80MS
It seems strange to begin a game review with a quote from an american poet, but this is a grand experiment in the gamification of game reviewers, so I think I can risk it. Audre Lorde said that 'There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.' While that may be an exaggeration, I can think of no area which this applies to more than the Indie Sector. In a world where time and money are tight resources, all it takes is a new expression of an old idea to create a success.
This game, 'I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1', is an example of that principle. It's a XBLA twin-stick shooter where you fight a horde of zombies using a wide array of weapons and try to stay alive as long as possible. That by itself is not a new experience, but the gameplay is very solid and engaging by itself. The weapon power-ups are both different and useful in different situations and are plentiful but not to the extent that it unbalances the game. The difficulty spikes up pretty quickly, but in a manageable curve. It's very tough to beat but the 4-player multiplayer aspect and high score table provides enough gratification to propel the player on to try and beat their last score.
But that isn't why you're going to buy or possibly love this game, though that will be the factor that brings you back to play it multiple times. Nor will it be the graphics, although they are impressively cleanly designed and colourful. Nor will it be the different types of enemy, both zombie and more abstract creations such as slime or snakes. The area in which this game excells is in the audio.
Put simply, the song that this game is set to is one of the most absurd pieces of background music in video gaming history; I mean absurd in the best sense of the word. A 12-minute long psychadelic anthem with an 'Axel Rose'-esque vocal, with heavy guitar breaks and progressive metal synth sections. You know you have something special when you're laughing so hard that you're finding it hard to concentrate on paying the game for the first time. I'm smiling now just thinking about it, and I wish I had it in my music library.
So if the song itself makes the game worth buying, then for the low price being advertised the enjoyable and challenging gameplay just seals the deal. They made a game with zombies in it, I played the game with zombies in it and I ask you, the consumer, to go and buy the game with zombies in it.
If you like absorbing twin-stick action or crazy 12-minute songs, buy this game. If you're unsure, find a friend who has it and play 2-player with them. Either way, experience this game.