Friday, November 6, 2009

Indie Game Review: I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1


About a year ago, Xbox live introduced the "Community Games" feature along with its new interface. For about 10 months, users were 'treated' to every manner of hackneyed user-made games including (but certainly not limited to) Super Mario ripoffs, classic arcade ripoffs, and a truly frightening number of apps that simply vibrated your xbox controller. There's a few games worth noting amongst the mess (I hope to shed some light on those in the near future), but finding one of those precious few bright spots is often times very difficult.

This game could change all of that. The amusingly-titled I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1 is a true gem. Its controls are incredibly easy (it's a twin stick shooter in the vein of Smash TV), the interface is clean, and the game itself is smooth and beautiful. Waves of zombies rise from the grave and shamble towards you, and you gun them down. Powerups are available, ranging from speed boosts, to shields, to (of course) kickass weaponry.

If this doesn't sound particularly new or inventive, it's because it's really not. The aforementioned Smash TV did all of this almost 20 years ago, and a host of imitators have done it since then. So what makes IMAGWZII! so fresh and awesome?

It's actually sort of hard to say, but I think a large part of it is that this game simply wants you to enjoy yourself. Smash TV was created with the obvious intent of being a quarter eater. It starts out brutal and gets unfair from there (and that's the element most of its successors have keyed in on). ZOMBIES is different in that it's not out to punish you, it has no intention of becoming an endurance test (a fact underlined by the fact that the game ends at 13 minutes and 37 seconds no matter what the player does). This isn't to say the game doesn't carry any difficulty or challenge (it certainly does), it's just that the challenge doesn't get in the way of the entertainment.

All of that, and I haven't even mentioned the two main reasons that this game is such a hit - the music and the price (hint: it's a dollar, a fact which the song states). Playing along the duration of the game is a rock song made by the game's creator. In it, he welcomes you to his game, noting that you'd better move quickly and shoot the zombies before bursting out in an anthemic chorus of "I MADE a GAAAAAME WITh ZOMBIES IN IT!!". The game matches pace with the song, picking up the action when there's a particularly rocking portion, or letting the player catch their breath when there's a lull in the song. When the song reaches its end, the game is over.

Put all these elements together and you have a game that  is easily head and shoulders above anything else that the indie games feature of Xbox Live has to offer. If indie games are going to survive on the Xbox console, more people are going to have to take a page out of this playbook. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH ZOMBIES 1N IT!!!1 isn't just a good independently-made game, it's a good game period - easily worthy of your time and money.

After all, It's only a dollar...

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