Xbox Live Indie Games

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Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby itsgood2slide » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:13 pm

With Xbox Live Indie Games set to shut down in September, I have been exploring its vast library for one last time before they are all gone. It is very much a case of searching for the diamonds in the rough, but there are so many fantastic XBLIG games, many of which are quite unlike anything I have found through other channels.

I must have played almost all of the racing games released on the service, and below are the ones I have purchased and would recommend you giving a go before it is too late. Every game has a free trial and most of them are £0.69 / $1 to purchase the full game. (Some of these are available on PC as well, but many are XBLIG exclusive.)

Concept Car Series 2010, Avatar Racedrome and Avatar Karting
Rendercode Games / Juan Alberto Munoz

These all have simple visuals, but are perhaps the most accomplished 3D XBLIG racing games. The cars all want to drift, but you have to manage the drift to avoid scrubbing too much speed. Concept Car Series 2010 is a game where the handling only seems to make sense if you use chase-cam, but the others work with either view. Avatar Racedrome adds a rewind function, but has only one vehicle (CCS has three vehicle classes). Avatar Karting features realistic go-karts, retains the rewind button, but loses track elevation. The developer went on to make three more racing games (Racedrome Offroad, Racedrome City and Avatar Karting 2), but these seem to use a different game engine and the cars will not lose traction to allow drifts.

Gentlemen Start Your Engiiines and Dirt Track Racer

Gentlemen Start Your Engiiines is clearly inspired by Daytona, and while it does not strive to emulate the latter's depth of handling, it nonetheless delivers super-fast, drifty fun round four ovals with a 43 car field. Dirt Track Racer makes the switch to Sprint Cars, but is otherwise very similar. There are not as many vehicle options, but the track layouts have greater variety.

Figure 8 Racing and Zombie Racer

What is particularly interesting about these games is that they offer some impressive customisation; you can change things like the strength of gravity, the friction level of the ground and the power of the engines, allowing for a kind of slapstick comedy mode if you choose certain combinations. Zombie Racer has the better racing, primarily due to more complex track layouts (and not really due to the zombies and guns, which feel somewhat tacked on). Figure 8 Racing maintains its relevance thanks to a better car-football mode and the (as far as I know) entirely unique car-pool mini game (as in 9-ball pool, with cars).

Little Racers Street
Milkstone Studios

This is a game many of you will be familiar with, and it is of course available on Steam, but nonetheless I must mention it because it is quite possibly the best racing game on the service and must be a contender for best top-down racing game of all time.

Magic Racing GP 2 and Magic Racing Rally
Magic Studio

Magic might just be the right word here, because Magic Racing GP 2 is, somehow, a top down racing game which is also a full re-creation of the 2011 F1 season, including all the circuits (plus a few classics like Imola) and an incredible depth of customisation options. It also includes three classes of go-karts and a set of single screen tracks to emulate Super Sprint. It's not a sim, but it is as close as a top-down game could really get. Magic Racing Rally does not have anything like as much depth, but is nonetheless a fun rally spin-off which is also very much worth the dollar / 69p asking price.

Toy Cars
Eclipse Games

Another top-down racer, but this time of the Micro Machines variety (and with 3D cel-shaded style visuals). It is more than just a clone though, with challenging, momentum-heavy handling which feels more like Driver than Micro Machines.

Dirchie Kart and Dirchie Kart 2

A Super Mario Kart clone with visuals that recall Wacky Races. Each vehicle has a number of hearts and once you lose them you are relegated to a slow bike until you can pass through the pits. Of course, the fastest vehicle has the least hearts and vice-versa so this leads to a nice risk-versus-reward decision to make. These are really fun, well made games, and the best of their type on XBLIG.

Avatar Grand Prix and Avatar Grand Prix 2
Battenberg Software

Second-best, but still very much worth a go are the two Avatar Grand Prix games. Qualifying is an unusual inclusion for games that otherwise stick to the Mario Kart formula. It is close to just being seen as a cheap knock-off, but significant elevation changes give the tracks a rollercoaster feel, while rumble strips at the edges of the corners encourage accurate driving which is challenging at the highest cc level.

Ocean Drive Challenge

An OutRun clone which feels just right, with smooth scrolling visuals and a great soundtrack. Traffic patterns are a bit too random and some gaps can seem impossibly narrow to squeeze through, but generous collision detection can come to the rescue.

Avatars On The Edge

Mirrors Edge: Skateboard Racing... Avatars On The Edge is both as hard and as fun as that sounds. It can be offputtingly hard at first, mainly because falling off during a race leads to you being put back to the previous checkpoint which can be very frustrating, and time-trial mode really needs an immediate restart option. However, if you are willing to persevere with these punishments then this is a tense and exciting game not to be missed.

T.E.C. 3001

A futuristic auto-runner / 3D-platformer hybrid which feels as much like a racing game as it does anything else because you must steer your character rather than just translating them left and right (like in TRON RUN/r). The game is hard, with checkpoints that are bit too infrequent for my liking, but there is nothing quite like it so I took the plunge and have enjoyed it a lot.

Flight Adventure 2
Primarily this is just a non-combat flight simulator, but it does have a racing mode with both multi-player and time-trial modes. Gates are narrow and positioned on the ground so you have to fly accurately to successfully clear them. Very impressive game all-round.

Here are the other XBLIG games I have bought and recommend, for those interested in other genres too:

1on1 Soccer
Along Came A Spider
Apple Jack
Apple Jack 2
Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP!
Arkedo Series - 03 PIXEL!
AvaGlide 2
Blocks Indie
CarneyVale Showtime
Cosmic Cab
Crate Expectations
Decay - Part 1
Decay - Part 2
Decay - Part 3
Decay - Part 4 (Final)
DLC Quest
DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die
Fish Listening to Radio
Gravitron 360
Helico Hero
Hidden In Plain Sight
Hypership Still Out Of Control
Light's End
Moon Taxi
Mount Your Friends
Mr Gravity
Mute Crimson
Pixelbit Helicopter Challenge
radiangames Fireball
radiangames Inferno
RC Airplane Challenge
Run Away
Score Rush
SFG Soccer
Shoot 1UP
Space Police On SuperHighway 9
Squadron Scramble
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure
TIC: Part 1
Vampire Rage
Vidiot Game

I would be keen to hear of your experiences of XBLIG and any game recommendations you might have!
Last edited by itsgood2slide on Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby Ghegs » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:16 pm

Nice, thanks for the list. I didn't know XBLIG was going to be taken down, I should try and take some screenshots of at least some of these games for RGDB while I can.

I never really did use the service much since it was never launched in Finland, which meant that I had to create a second, US-account on my console just to be able to download the games. Bit bothersome. Others than the ones you've listed, I'd add Infinity Danger (Warning Forver-type of shmup, same dev as Little Racers Street) and Aban Hawkings and the 1000 Spikes. Luckily both are on PC as well.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby itsgood2slide » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:54 pm

I just tried Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES and it is evil! That's mental breakdown territory...

I have played Infinity Danger (but not Warning Forever), but I don't tend to play many twin stick shooters and that one seemed particularly repetitive, especially with the modular enemies. Granted I have played a LOT of Indie trials over the years so that could cloud my judgement, but that was definitely one where I was bored of it before the trial timed out.

That's rubbish it never made it to Finland (and many other territories). MS never really gave XBLIG a fighting chance.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby Ghegs » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:55 pm

Went through the games on your post and they're all fully covered in RGDB now, with screenshots and multiplayer info.

Rendercode Games' felt pretty decent as far as these things go. I think I liked the two Avatar Grand Prix titles' handling a bit better, tho. I certainly would've paid a dollar for them.

I was frankly impressed with the feature lists on some of these. There's the expected stuff (quick race, arcade mode, time trial...), but a good amount of them also have 4-player local splitscreen multiplayer and 8-player multiplayer via online or system link. Maybe the framework made these really easy to implement, but it was nice to see.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby itsgood2slide » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:12 pm

It must be the case for online (at least) because across all genres multiplayer will be available for just about any game for which it would be suitable.

With so few split screen "AAA" options, the likes of Hidden In Plain Sight, SFG Soccer, Blurball and Fish Listening To Radio (:D) made XBLIG the dominant subplatform for local multiplayer on my 360. Well, aside from Rock Band...
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby lilmanjs » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:42 am

Aside from the racing games mentioned, a bunch I've never checked out, Oozi Earth Adventure series is quite worth playing. Also on Steam as well. Nice hand drawn platformer series that is fun and hard.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby Ghegs » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:34 pm

Played through every other XBLIG racer I could find with the purpose of getting video footage of them to grab screenshots from, before they're gone forever.

For games that sell for a dollar, it's amazing how most of them manage to feel like they had a budget less than half that. There are games I honestly can't imagine anybody releasing even as a joke.

I did find Flowrider and RC Racing 360 to be something I could've seen myself paying a buck for. The former is a top-down futuristic water racer which seemed pretty decent, and the latter looked and played good enough to almost be an XBLA title. The original Little Racers (sans Street) was pretty good as well.
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby itsgood2slide » Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:17 pm

RC Racing 360 does look good, but the handling felt too much like a Titus game for my liking.

Flowrider looks pretty good on YouTube so I might give it another go...
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Re: Xbox Live Indie Games

Postby itsgood2slide » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:16 pm

I originally passed on Flowrider because I do not like the point-in-the-direction-you-want-to-go control system. The frame rate makes it a bit of a headache too. Not for me, but it is well designed and worth a go if you do not mind that control system.

The same developer also made Fitba and most of the XBLIG lacrosse games so I finally gave the latter a go. A relatively big deal was made about them at the time (a lacrosse video game, finally!), but they basically play like ice hockey games as far as I can see.
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