Be Mine Impressions – Part 1

The Be Mine Indie Game Bundle launched earlier this week.. planned for Valentine’s Day, originally.  The bundle is pay what you want, with a minimum price of $1, and 20% of the money goes to Child’s Play..

Games in the bundle: Wasteland Angel, a vehicular combat shoot ’em up from Octane Games, a puzzle-platform adventure called Sideway New York, by Playbrains and Fuel Entertainment, Xotic, an arcade-style first person shooter by WXP Games, Beep, a physics-based platformer by Big Fat Alien, and The Ball, an action-puzzle game by Teotl Studios, and as a bonus for achieving the first goal of $3,000, the three DLC packs for Xotic, and point and click adventure game Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals, by White Birds Productions.  The next goal is set at $100,000, with soundtracks for The Ball and Beep, and new EPs.. and a third mystery bonus has been listed, but with no goal value as yet.

Here’s the first part of our impressions of the games in the bundle: Wasteland Angel, Sideway New York and Xotic.. Part 2 containing Beep, The Ball and Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals is here!

I played a chunk of Wasteland Angel last night.. this a mostly top-down vehicular shooter which takes place in the aftermath of nuclear war.  I say mostly top-down; most of the levels are top-down, but the story is delivered via cutscenes, and the bonus levels are in first-person mode.

You play as Angel, a tough-talking girl who travels around defending small settlements of survivors from waves of bad guys who want to enslave them and/or use them as target practise.  The first towns you visit have two levels, one in daytime and one at night, where you must defend the town against slavers.

The smaller vehicles will attack you, while buses and trucks head for the town and start capturing the civilians.  These enemies were fairly easy to blow up, and many dropped different power-ups or secondary weapons such as land mines and napalm, which you can drop behind you for enemies to hopefully run through.  There were a few extra missions during these: collect some items from around the map, escort a civilian vehicle.. and my favourite, manning the Crane of Destruction, a high-firepowered turret 🙂

Following these was the boss level, with several waves of smaller vehicles appearing before the much larger, more powerful boss..
These were harder to kill even with the special weapons, as they had flamethrowers and a spiked roller at the front, and coming in contact with them seemed to send me flying but do them no damage.

This tank had a slight inclination to get stuck on scenery.  Oops.

After killing the boss, you get to play a bonus level.. in first-person mode!  The graphics weren’t great, and the field-of-view was a little limited, but I really loved being so much closer to the action.  A friend mentioned this mode made him feel motion sick though, so maybe it’s just as well it’s only a quick level’s worth..

The gameplay reminded me a little of Renegade Ops, but I found the driving controls a bit less comfortable.. the car seemed harder to steer exactly where I wanted it.  Turning was controlled by the left analogue stick, but this was relative to the car rather than the screen.  Maybe I was spoiled by Renegade Ops on this front.. but pointing the stick in the direction I want to go just feels easier.  I got stuck on the scenery a few times, and had to rely on the AI crashing into me to get free.. I also ended a few waves blind-firing off-screen at enemies who were either stuck or driving in circles out there.

The game is fun, and I do plan to finish the story, but I don’t think I’d be going back to it afterwards.  I prefer Renegade Ops, with its more intuitive driving and fun multiplayer with friends.. Wasteland Angel is singleplayer only, though with highscores to chase.

Sideway New York, a puzzle-platform adventure by Playbrains and Fuel Entertainment, was the next game on the list..

You play as graffiti artist Nox, who sprays over the wrong tag and gets sucked into an alternate universe controlled by the Dark Artist, Spray.  Your goal is to defeat him, escape, and rescue your friend!  Having been transformed into a graffiti figure, you are confined to the wall.. but when you come to the edge of one wall, you wrap round onto the next!

Getting across the landscape means jumping between boxes, windows and the tops of doors, and so long as the way isn’t blocked, moving on to the next wall or even the roof.  Reaching the roof results in the same wrap-around effect, with the camera moving up to stay with you.  Gravity is applied as if you were on a wall, with the ‘bottom’ being the side you accessed the roof from.  There are collectible cans and tags littered everywhere, including secret tags and unlockable powers, with some only accessible by leaving the roof and re-entering to change the gravity!

There are painted enemies on the levels too; starting with easy to punch slimes, but you soon meet flying or spitting slimes which require a sliding tackle or flying kick.  You start off being able to take two hits before you die, and when this happens you are sent back to the checkpoint with all enemies restored too.  As you play you discover upgrades: increases to your health pool, the ability to turn certain tags into solid platforms or objects to damage enemies with, so this initial weakness really isn’t a problem.

I loved the colourful art style and the changing point of view as I moved around the levels.  The music is by Mr. Lif.. this is not the sort of music I listen to, but I thought it fit the game pretty well even if it did start to get a bit repetitive.

The game has local co-op, too.. with a second player able to drop in simply by pressing the Jump button for the second controller or keyboard.

The view will expand to show both players on-screen to a point, but the camera stayed with Player 1 when moving onto or off a roof, with Player 2 sometimes then being teleported back to Player 1’s location.. a little frustrating, maybe.  None of the puzzles need more than one player, so co-op is just a bit of fun.

I already owned the third game in the bundle; WXP GamesXotic, having been lucky enough to win a copy in January! 🙂

Xotic is an arcade-style shooter set on a planet ravaged by an ancient, mad entity called the Orb, with strange plant life and aliens.  Destroying the Scab plants weakens the Orb’s control over the planet, and allows new life to grow.

Killing these is fun.. the Scabs detonate and set each other off, and you can set up a nice chain reaction with them 😀

I found the mouse to be horribly sluggish to start.. I normally have to adjust the sensitivity a good chunk in Source games, for instance, but on this I had to bring it right up to 90.  Reading around, many people had problems with sensitivity when the game was launched, and this led to the developers adding higher mouse sensitivity, as well as adding FOV settings 🙂

The goal in Xotic is simply to get the highest score you can, by collecting gems and powerups, and shooting enemies, alien plants, crystals and even seeking out hidden areas and bits of Orb brain.  The lure of collecting all the things can mean you end up scouring the level for every last destructible item, which is at odds with the fast-paced nature of the rest of the game.

The game has a Campaign Mode, which you need to play to unlock the other modes, on a per-map basis.  The other three modes are Scab Attack, Essense Attack and Brain Attack, which are timed modes, marked on the destruction of Scabs, Essense and Brains.

The tradeoff for the bright colourful environment is that the enemies are a bit hard to see: turrets look rather like Scabs, for instance.   Some enemies seem to lurk right at the back of the level, and you have to go and find them.. the level exit doesn’t appear till you’ve killed all of them.

Upgrades were another issue.. while you earn points to upgrade your weapons or character, some of the options were locked and it wasn’t clear why through looking at the upgrade screen.  The options actually unlock after successfully completing a level.

There are three DLCs planned for the game, the first of which, The Pipe Works, has been released.  This adds three new levels, with towers of metal, and ancient aqueducts beneath the planet’s surface.  The DLC packs were unlocked on the Be Mine bundle, but when I last looked (the site is down again at present) there were only Mac codes available: the developers haven’t yet released codes for the PC version.

That leaves Beep, The Ball, and Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals.. which I’ll get round to in Part 2!

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