XNA Roundup

Microsoft finally unveiled how people’s XNA games will get in the hands of gamers. As a preview they uploaded 7 demos of forthcoming XNA games to the Marketplace.

Culture involves planting flowers to kill weeds. This sounds boring, but somehow the core game mechanism of planting flowers has a certain satisfaction to it. You kill the rapidly growing weeds by completing a circle of flowers around the weeds. Sort of like closing off areas in Qix. The game takes a long time to ramp up in difficultly and there should be a bit more to the game but there is a solid start here which could be cultivated into a nice game.

Jelly Car is similar to any number of physics based dirt bike or monster truck games or sledding games where you control a vehicle that can tilt back and forth while in the air and you try to reach the end of tracks without crashing. The catch here is that your car and the environment are made of extremely flexible materials which wobble and flex and bend to accommodate the forces acting on them. The menu system needs some work. Having to back out to the main menu and manually change what level you are playing on is a pain. Again there is a solid game here that just needs some time in the fridge to set.

Little Gamers has really sharp graphics, terribly boring melee game play and sort of interesting gun play. The first levels were terribly boring, but then the zombies and firepower come out and it gets a little better, then you start climbing up a building in an immense firefight and it gets a bit more better. Overall though it is a terribly unexciting game which needs more involved game mechanisms to keep a player’s interest.

Proximity HD is a cool board game. It is a good example of a board game that couldn’t be done without a computer. Players get a set of hexagons with numbers going up to 20. The hexagons are placed on a board. If you place a hexagon by an opponents hex with a smaller number you take control of that hex. Otherwise the opponent’s hex is lowered by 2. This constant recalculation of what the hexes are is an ideal use for a computer. The presentation is clean and solid but no-frills.

Rocketball is terrible. It’s Dodgeball, but with only 2 “lanes” that your character can exist in. Front and back has very little meaning other than changing the timing for catches. The only redeeming factor is that the graphics have the potential to be decent.

The Dishwasher is awesome. Awesome presentation, awesome graphics, awesome gameplay. The fighting sort of reminded me of Smash Brothers, with the constant rolling around dodging and quick flurrys of punches followed up by a strong knockaway attack. Really cool style and I can’t wait to see how the other levels look.

TriLinea is real time Puzzle Quest mixed with Dominoes. I don’t like it as there is not enough indication of how you are doing as you play the game. I’m making matches and combinations and I’m losing. I don’t understand.

So overall there is some good stuff, some bad stuff, and some stuff with potential. It’s like reliving the shareware days of the 90s!