Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Radian Games

radiangames was formed in March of 2010 by developer Luke Schneider who has since produced seven fantastic, outrageously addictive, Xbox Live Indie Games which are all currently available for a measly 80 MS points. Luke previously worked on high-profile titles such as Red Faction and the Descent series before deciding to ditch the big boys and plonk headfirst into our precious underdog of Independent Gaming

His first effort, JoyJoy, was a huge success due to its simplicity, pick-up-and-play tactics (think Geometry Wars) and generally bright and cheerful presentation. This simplicity, and smooth-as-butter controls, carried through to all seven of his efforts each with a uniqueness and familiarity that makes them all essential downloads.

He followed the success of JoyJoy with Crossfire (no, not the Milton-Bradley board sensation of the early nineties) which is a game that takes inspiration from Space Invaders, with a twist: You can flip your ship to the top of the screen. This simple mechanic adds new life to any past homages and lends itself to some intense action and mind bending tactics. Not to mention two players can flip ships and unleash lasery mayhem together in a continuous barrage of gravity smashing resplendence.

His next effort was Inferno which is another twin-stick shooter but this time featuring RPG-esque upgrades, and maze-like levels to navigate your ship through while hoping to conquer its levels with up to three friends. This was actually the first game in the series I purchased and still find myself returning to its gorgeous level design and simple weapons system.

The fourth in the series, Fluid, is a quirky racing title featuring radiangames' signature graphical style and despite being the least derivative of the seven happens to be my least favorite. It's not necessarily that I have any complaints, it seems to be in the Pac-Man vein which I was never a particularly large fan of with the exception of the recent Championship DX iteration (leave your negative comments below), although I cannot say that it's still not an excellent entry in the series.

The fifth, Fireball, is my personal favorite and features a unique mechanic in which you move your circular avatar about the rectangle while avoiding geometric enemies and trigger bombs by passing near but not through them. This plays out over multiple waves of increasing intensity and is always intense as you maneuver past the ever-multiplying enemies.       

The sixth is a sequel to Crossfire and features new "mega enemies" and finally allows for online score posting. As of this printing I haven't spent much time with it, but the little I did play presented the perfect successor to an already addictive shooter.

Finally, in what Schneider has said to be the seventh and final game in the series, is a return to the Geometry Wars rectangle that goes by the moniker Ballistic. I love this game. It pits you (and a friend if so desired) against an infinite wave of enemies while allowing for nine enhancements to your ship, starting with a meager one of your choosing. Every three waves you are able to alter your set of enhancements which range from a speed boost to projectiles that bounce off the walls and can truly turn the tables on a cornered craft. Being that the waves are infinite the leaderboard  scores are exponentially ascending to unthinkable quantities which I can only dream of toppling. I do dream, though...

Are these the most original pieces of interactive media you will come across? Certainly not. In fact, each game wears its inspirations like a badge of devotion. It's simply that radiangames gets these homages so right. Every game plays perfectly leaving you feeling all gooey with nostalgia while remembering that you don't need a muscle-bound hero, a never-ending cityscape, a shadow or colossus, or anything outside of bright lights and pretty music (which is fantastic and original in each) to have fun. Although adding several zeros to your friends' scores never hurts.

To provide conclusiveness: You can get ALL of these fantastic titles for $7!!
Buy Them ALL...Now!!

I give radiangames:  



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