Mini-Reviews of All 7 XNA Demos on Xbox LIVE


TimI was excited to hear Microsoft announce this week that user-created XNA games would get a chance to be played over Xbox Live. The small studios and talented individual programmers are sure to have some unique ideas for games and now Xbox 360 owners will get a chance to see some of them through this ‘YouTube for videogames’. With the announcement, 7 games were made immediately available to demo for a limited time. I decided to give each a shot and report back my findings. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a mixed bag, but I do see some potential with a few of these titles. Keep reading for my mini-reviews, ranked from worst to first.


#7 – Culture – Not a fun game. It’s a collection of minigames based on flowers and planting stuff, three of which are available in the demo. The first, a game where you kill weeds by surrounding them with flowers isn’t too bad, definitely the best of the bunch. You spin your mini planet around looking for any weeds which begin to multiply if left unattended. To kill them you just plant flowers around them and once all the weeds are dead, the level is over. The levels do get harder and the variety of flowers you can plant does grow, but it just didn’t hold my attention very long. The controls spinning the planet weren’t real tight and while the idea for the game is interesting, the implementation isn’t that fun. Unfortunately the other two minigames are much, much worse. Remember those paint-by-number things you did as a kid? That’s a minigame, only you paint by flowers. Once the grid is filled in with all the right colors, the flowers bloom showing you the whole picture. I just don’t know why anyone would ever want to do this chore (yes, chore, I can’t consider it a game). The last one has to do with planting a garden, mixing and matching flower locations based on some sort of compatability. By this point, my attention span was shot and I gave this game about 30 before quitting. It’s possible that the final roster of minigames will make this game better, but I’m guessing it won’t. It’s a shame because the menus were nice, the graphics were pretty polished all around, and you don’t see a lot of ‘flower’ games out there. Maybe now we know why.


#6 – RocketBall – Basically a simple game of dodgeball. Dodgeball isn’t going to be that exciting as a videogame anyway, but the real shame here is that your movement is so limited. While you can move left to right freely on your side of the court, there’s only an up or down position vertically. This means it will be a hit if you are in the ‘alley’ your opponent throws the ball in and a miss if you’re in the other alley. Far too restrictive and won’t be fun for more than 5 minutes.


#5 – TriLinea – I wanted to give this game a worse ranking, but honestly I didn’t give it much of a chance. I knew right away this wasn’t my type of game, so I didn’t bother learning the mechanics. Basically, it’s a cross between dominoes and Puzzle Quest. You have spells to cast and the game is played on a grid with colored dominoes. The graphics are pretty bare bones which is part of the reason it didn’t hold my attention too long. Fans of Puzzle Quest should check it out, others need not apply.

Little Gamers

#4 – Little Gamers – Really didn’t like this game much either. The graphics are very simple, which isn’t necessarily bad because they are very smooth as well. The problem is the lack of animation and shallow gameplay and adding animation is not that difficult since you can get companies as gramvideos online to do this work for you. The game is a beat-em-up like the old TMNT and Streets of Rage games except not as fun. The game sports an impressive array of weapons, but none of them make the game more fun to play. It feels too much like a flash game with almost static sprites thrown in. Jump, head-butt, stab, repeat.

Proximity HD

#3 – Proximity HD – This game has potential. While the graphics are as simple as can be (and definitely not worthy of the ‘HD’ in its title), the gameplay has some depth. It’s a bit like Go, but on a hexagonal grid. If you place your red hex with a number 15 on it next to your opponents blue hex with a number 12 on it, you win over that piece and the value on the tile gets added to your score. You’ll have to try it to see if it’s for you, and while I personally wouldn’t pay money for it, I see some value here for some.


#2 – JellyCar – This game oozes with style and because of that, I really tried to love it. The idea is to get from point A to point B in your JellyCay, a squishy, bouncy, nearly indestructible car made of jelly! With your car you can move forwards or backwards or push the A button to transform into a huge JellyCar that helps you get over larger pits and comes in handy in a number of situations. Tilting the control stick will adjust your car mid-air and also help you get back on your wheels if you get flipped over. The game IS fun to play because of the game’s unique concept, but the level designs (the few that were available in the demo) didn’t do a great job of helping the concept reach its potential. One level required almost no driving, instead has you drop into a pachinko-like level and hope to fall into the exit point. The game works best when it mixes actual driving with puzzle elements made possible only by your squishiness. One such example is a level where you drive under these huge boulders, getting you car smooshed and then transforming into the huge JellyCar which launches the boulders forward, filling a pit that was previously impossible to pass. Hopefully the final version of the game has a variety of fun levels that do justice to the game’s undeniable charm.


#1 – The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai – Here’s my pick of the pack, the hidden gem. Dishwasher can be classified as a beat-em-up game, but it has enough style and depth to make the tired genre seem new again. I’m not going to pretend to understand the story here, just know that the game is very bloody and very fun. The depth comes with the 60+ combo moves, the ability to run up walls, the finishing moves reminiscent of Mortal Kombat (FATALITY!), and the satisfaction you get slicing up enemies. Trust me, it’s just fun. Plus there’s a lengthy story mode, an arcade mode, and a multiplayer mode. Not bad!

└ Tags:


  1. Lava says:

    Wow, those last two sound pretty awesome. Now we just need something that cool for WiiWare. …and actually LostWinds looks pretty promising.

    Yeah, I don’t own an Xbox, but perhaps the one person I know who has one will be interested.

    Ugh… I want to like the Xbox… I really do. It’s difficult for me. If only Apple would make a console. Actually, what if Atari and Apple teamed up to release an ultra awesome console!? Nah, the original Atari cannot be resurrected. What a shame. (Sorry, I’ll quit before my comment gets any more random.)

  2. DXSSI says:

    I LOVE JellyCar. I just can’t get enough of it. To me, it feels kind of like someone decided to make a whole game out of the car transformation in Yoshi’s Island (with some unique twists). I suppose it’s the graphical style that evokes that feeling in me more than anything, but the game is seriously a lot of fun.

  3. dj75728 says:

    @Lava: Why don’t you like the 360? And if you want an Apple System then go for the PS3, Sony is the Apple of video games :mrgreen: .

  4. Lava says:

    I don’t know DJ, it’s an American system, which is one reason I want to like it, (since gaming started here, I feel I certain pride in our ongoing legacy) but when they market stuff like Gears and Halo so heavily, I feel I don’t belong. I’m just not that into the grittiness and bald muscle men that those games have. The typical fans seem to be the opposite of me. I know the 360 has games that I would probably like, but all the top tier stuff, is probably NOT what I would like. Eh, maybe in the distant future when 360s are like 50 bucks I’ll get one. PS3 looks kinda cool, but again the marketing turns me off. I’m super impressed with LittleBigPlanet though, and would almost consider buying it just for that. (and Blu-Ray of course.) But about Apple, it’s not that they would be so different, (but hopefully the would) it’s just that I respect that company as a cool and successful American company. I can’t think that way about Microsoft. (They stole Windows.)

  5. dj75728 says:

    @Lava: Give the 360 a chance, not everyone who owns one is a big FPS fan(me), and it has plenty of great games. The PS3 just doesn’t appeal to me much, the only thing I want to play on it is MGS4(no thanks FFXIII & GOW), and the other games I want to play are also on 360. Not to mention the online, Live is definantely second to none. I don’t know, all I’m saying is try it out, go buy a used one at gamestop or something and try it out for awhile, if you don’t like it, you can just return it(keep it for less than 30 days and take it back, if they ask why say it was messing up a little, they’ll buy it. Trust me, I used to work there :mrgreen: .).

  6. Holy sh*t, an article involving anything non-Nintendo.

  7. Lava says:

    Yeah DJ, I definitely won’t boycott the 360. 🙂 Not sure I’m up for spending money right now, but I’ll try to think happy thoughts about Xbox.

76 queries. 1.801 seconds