10 XBOX Live Indie Games of 2012 You Need to Download

Do you agree or disagree with my list? If anybody has games that they believe are worthy of recognition that aren’t getting it, please let me know in the comments, or drop a line to me on Twitter or Facebook.

As of this writing, there have been 433 games released this year alone on the XBOX Live Indie Games (XBLIG) Marketplace. There are 2,663 total games on the XBLIG Marketplace, and to be perfectly honest, at least 75% of them are total crap. Finding good indie games can be like trying to find a diamond ring in a pile of manure.

Since I’ve become involved in developing a game for the XBLIG Marketplace, I’ve become very personally interested in the quality of content in the marketplace. I’ve downloaded and played a large number indie games over the course of the last nine months or so, and I’ve put together this list to try and help you wade through the crap.

And trust me, I’ve played a LOT of crap that was supposed to be good (thanks a lot Sententia).

Every game on this list is definitely worth the dollar (or more, in one case) that you will put into it. Not only that, but all of us as responsible developers and gamers should try to give recognition where recognition is due, and download the good games to support our fellow brethren.

The list is ordered by release date:

Escape Goat by MagicalTimeBean (released 11/02/2011)

Now, I’m actually cheating with this one. Escape Goat was released in November of 2011, so it isn’t technically a game from 2012, but this is my list and I have the right to do whatever I want.

Deal with it.

The game was originally priced at 240 MSP, which ended up being its Achilles heel. Creator and registered mammalphile Ian Stocker even says so himself in an edition of “Tales From the Dev Side” on Indie Gamer Chick. Because of the “steep” price, the game never got traction, and blended into obscurity in the marketplace.

The good news is, it’s now only 80 MSP.

I feel like almost any puzzle-platformer is worth a dollar, especially ones done as well as Escape Goat is. The puzzles don’t get repetitive, and the platforming element is done as well as any game out there. Plus, you get to play a loveable goat wrongly imprisoned by an unjust ruler. Donkey ain’t got nothin’ on this.

Almost a year later, it’s time for Escape Goat to be rediscovered by indie gamers and recognized for its quality.

Lots of Guns by Stegersaurus Games (released 01/05/2012)

I mean, what could be better than 8-bit platforming with pixels and explosions blasting all over the place in a fast-paced vertical autorunner all the while being stared down by a giant face that is clearly distraught with your triumphs as a gamer?

I say not much.

Lots of Guns is a solid and fun autorunner with a ton of attitude and character, and a unique retro graphic style that makes it a fun experience every time you play. Add in that there are literally dozens of weapons (some incredibly more powerful than others…I’m talking to you Mines) cycled between checkpoints, and the gameplay is never too repetitive that you lose interest.

My Cat vs. Zombies by thelostone (released 03/17/2012)

When you download an indie game, there’s always the chance that the quality of…ahem…certain elements…doesn’t quite meet your expectations as a gamer (for me, the song from I Maed a W1th Zombies 1n It!!!1 comes to mind…what the heck is that junk?). Looking at the cover for My Cat vs. Zombies, you might be inclined to believe this game has a lot of this…um…low quality content.

Surprisingly, this is one of the cases where you definitely don’t judge the game by its cover…or its in game images…or the general premise of the game.

Why?

Because despite the ridiculous photos of real cats in the dialogue boxes, the gameplay of My Cat vs. Zombies is about as solid as a game can get. And when the game is actually FUN TO PLAY, you begin to adore and laugh at the bizarre offerings of the game (there’s a lesson to be had here developers!).

It’s basically a twin-stick shooter RPG with an experience and leveling system including perks, and a loot and shop mechanism all wrapped up with WoW-style questing against zombies. How’s that for a summary?

Trust me, once you play this game, you’ll never look at catnip the same way.

Miner Warfare by HeartBit Interactive (04/06/2012)

As per the description of the game on XBLIG: Miner Warfare is the perfect couch friendship breaker!

I’ve certainly witnessed plenty of physical violence as related to competitive local multiplayer in video games (Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros., and Mario Kart come to mind). I could definitely see this sort of real life violence repeated to the tune of Miner Warfare.

Definitely.

No, this game has nothing to do with voxels or mining or any of that other stupid crap. Miner Warfare is exclusively for people to kick the crap out of each other. For the sake of you and your friends, please leave the violence INSIDE the game. It reminds me of an over-simplified version of Smash Bros., with a unique and clever graphical style and plenty of weapons to go around.

Oh, and did I mention that it is 8-player local multiplayer? Yes, eight.

I couldn’t possibly suggest that you could make some pretty fun drinking games at a party playing Miner Warfare, and I couldn’t possibly suggest that I may or may not have actually played said drinking games with a large group of people resulting in hours of fun…

Apple Jack 2 by My Owl Software (released 06/14/2012)

Really, Apple Jack and Apple Jack 2 epitomize the reason why we should be ashamed of ourselves as consumers of game content. Currently in the best-selling list on the XBLIG Marketplace, Apple Jack sits at 587 out of 2,663 total games. The sequel, which is pretty much superior in every way, currently sits at 957.

This is downright embarrassing.

Apple Jack 2 could quite possibly be the best indie game I have ever played on the XBLIG Marketplace (my opinion of the game is quite clearly stated in the review that I wrote of the game). It is a puzzle-platformer which meshes graphic style, soundtrack, character, environment, satisfaction, challenge, mechanics, and fun into just one dollar.

It’s remarkable to me that people would bother spending money to see half-naked cartoon girls or play awful dating sims and leave a game like Apple Jack 2 to rot in mediocrity. This game is better than Spelunky and every bit as fun to play as Super Meat Boy, yet nobody knows it exists.

Do yourself a favor and download Apple Jack 2. You’ll have to trust me when I say that not a single particle of your being will feel like you’ve wasted even one penny of that dollar once you’ve finished the game.

Penny Arcade’s Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness 3 by Zeboyd Games (released 06/29/2012)

I shouldn’t even have to explain this to you. To save you some time, I’ll tell you exactly what to do:

  1. Type “Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness 3” into the Google search bar and hit Enter.
  2. Enjoy.
  3. Add 400 MSP to your XBOX Live Account.
  4. Download the above-mentioned game.
  5. Enjoy again.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure by sparsevector (released 07/06/2012)

  1. Boot up the Apple 2E.
  2. Start Oregon Trail.
  3. Start a New Game where the pioneers are all of your friends.
  4. Spend all of your starting cash on ammunition.
  5. Hunt until the screen is covered with dead bears and deer.
  6. Repeat step 4 until everyone dies of dysentery or typhoid fever.
  7. Go to Step 3.

Oh how I miss the computer lab days of Elementary School. Between Oregon Trail and Number Munchers, I think it was pretty much set in stone that I was going to enjoy games.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure will take you back to the days of Oregon Trail and remind you that a game doesn’t have to be an epic fantasy RPG or super realistic first-person shooter to be fun. The game actually plays a lot like a pioneer version of Gradius (yeah, you read that right).

Not only is the gameplay fun and addictive, but the scenarios presented to you and your wagon through the adventure are so wacky and zany that you can’t help but to laugh at the pure absurdity. I remember once when I tried to jump the river and my wagon jumped so high I went into outer space and had to dodge meteorites.

The comedic value of SAWA alone is worth the dollar. The solid gameplay is really just a bonus.

Oozi Earth Adventure Episode 4 by AwesomeGamesStudio (released 09/02/2012)

Poor Oozi. Poor, poor Oozi.

Simply put, the Oozi series may be the most visually stunning collection of games on XBLIG to date. The graphics easily are good enough for the standard XBL Arcade. Going on presentation alone, playing Oozi would mean taking the homecoming queen to the XBLIG prom.

Even beyond graphics, the game actually plays very well as a standard platformer. As you progress through the episodes, you get new powers and more advanced gameplay mechanics, and the game instantly becomes as playable as Super Metroid. The stages can get painstakingly long and repetitive at times, but just as you master one mechanic or mob, a new one appears almost exactly at the right time creating solid gameplay pacing.

Despite all of this, the Oozi series isn’t really recognized hardly at all on XBLIG. Perhaps it is because it strings over four different games released a year and a half apart, or perhaps it’s because AwesomeGamesStudio just doesn’t promote it well enough.

Whatever the reason, these games just haven’t got the credit they deserve. Do yourself a favor and at least give them a look. You won’t regret it.

Diehard Dungeon by tricktale (released 09/11/2012)

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is simply one of the greatest games ever created. If you have a problem with this statement, I recommend you go lick a mule’s grundle and rethink yourself as a gamer.

Diehard Dungeon is probably the closest thing to LoZ that any indie game has to offer. The graphic style, the baddies, and the gameplay are smooth. The dungeon is completely random every time that you play, so you never have the same experience twice. In fact, even the powerups and upgrades are randomly awarded. I played through the dungeon probably a dozen times, and I still never saw all of the upgrades.

Diehard Dungeon isn’t only the MVP of the Summer Indie Uprising, but may be one of the best overall games available for one dollar on the XBLIG Marketplace. Not only this, but the developer has already patched the game to fix many of the strange and/or annoying issues, and promises to add more content whenever he is able.

The only knock on the game is that eventually the variety dries up after a number of times through the dungeon. However, what if tricktale created a full feature-length game using the exact same graphics and engine, included some puzzle-mechanics, and put in a story?

Whoa.

XenoMiner by Gristmill Studios (released 09/19/2012)

Let me begin this by saying that I absolutely do not get the appeal of voxel-based mining games. I think they are boring, completely purposeless, and have needlessly littered the XBLIG Marketplace. You walk around for hours putting rocks in your backpack so that you can…um…so that you can beat the game…wait, that’s not right…so that you can build stuff. When people talk about how cool these games are, I feel like the one person at a Zack Galifinakis stand-up who isn’t laughing. I just don’t get it.

That being said, if I was to actually play one of these games, I would only pay a dollar to do it. That’s why XenoMiner makes this list. At only a buck, it has everything that these other miner games have, and you get to do it in space.

I mean, the only thing I could possibly see myself doing in Minecraft is recreating the asteroid field chase from Empire Strikes Back – let’s be honest – and in XenoMiner, it would actually look authentic.

None of this horse crap.

All in all, the extraterrestrial environment, gameplay mechanics, and coherent graphics make this a solid miner game. But, the real reason it makes the list is because it’s yours for only 80 MSP.

Do you agree or disagree with my list? If anybody has games that they believe are worthy of recognition that aren’t getting it, please let me know in the comments, or drop a line to me on Twitter or Facebook.

One thought on “10 XBOX Live Indie Games of 2012 You Need to Download

  1. Pingback: 10 XBOX Live Indie Games of 2013 You Need to Download | Gigaloth Games – XBOX and Tabletop Game Developer, Game Reviews, and Dev Tidbits

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