Xbox Live Indie Games Insider Volume 6

Albeit a shorter column this week, we ventured through two in-depth space shooters that offer unique approaches to the genre. One asks players to circle Earth and defend it from incoming asteroids while the other has them escorting carrier ships to their destination. Either way, look to the stars as we review two Xbox Live Indie Games with a lot of flavor.

The first title in our adventure through space is Guardian, a game that asks players to protect our precious green Earth from asteroids, meteors, alien ships and much more. Armed with a primary and secondary weapon, along with a tractor beam, players have several means to dispose of the threats to Earth. There’s a catch though: Players have no control over the movement of their ship as they automatically circle Earth. The only control players have for their ship is the aim of the weapons, which can cause damage to Earth if players aren’t careful with lining up their shots.

Containing inviting menu and in-game music, Guardian is a light romp that offers more action than screenshots could ever show off. After playing one minute through the Legendary difficulty level, it became apparent that Guardian can be an intelligent challenge to the player’s wit. On the first level, I opted to use all of my secondary weapons – nuclear missiles, massive blasts, auto lock-on missiles, etc. – and realized that I still had another 2-3 minutes of the wave to go through. It’s definitely one of the most eye-opening titles in terms of the difficulty curve on the XBLIG.

The major downfall of Guardian happened to be the damage that can be inflicted to Earth by the player’s own weapons. Players must choose their shots wisely as it’s only a matter of time until the Earth starts looking like a pizza pie with bites taken out of it from the damage. BUY IT!

Game of the Week:
The fate of humanity is dependent on the player’s ability to escort a carrier fleet across the galaxy. Along the way, they run into pirates – or hoarders, as the game likes to refer to them as – who circle around trying to damage the ships before they reach their destination. Stopping the invaders from destroying the carrier, star bases or the lead starfighter is the main objective and it only becomes increasingly harder as the game progresses.

Starting out, Starchon is overly simple. The sound and graphical effects are weak, the combat is basic and enemy ships are often alike with little to no diversity. But as the game moves on from one solar system to another, it introduces new enemies, weapons and upgrades to keep the battles fresh. This is where Starchon ultimately succeeds at becoming more than a short XBLIG title: It extends replay value through the continuous improvement of the ships and carriers.

With multiple upgrades to weapons, shields, generators, power cores and much more, Starchon offers players an in-depth title for the small asking price of $1. Players must analyze the strength, recharge time, power consumed and cost of each add-on to their ships, so it’s a constant battle of balance to ensure the carriers make their way to delivering their goods. BUY IT!