Day 172: Chris Unarmed

Posted: 2011/04/30 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #172, and today’s game is “Chris Unarmed”.

I’ve seen this game compared to Mega Man, a comparison I don’t really understand (especially given the game has no weapons in it whatsoever). It reminds me more of Ice Climbers than the blue bomber. The game mixes traditional horizontal avoid-’em-up gameplay with Ice Climbers-esque vertical levels for unique gameplay, and an even more unique hero that consists of nothing other than a head and feet (leading to the game title’s terrible pun). This game was originally 240 points and was worth that point, with some little seen elements that highlight the brilliant level design, but is a platforming must-buy at its new price of 80 Microsoft Points.

First, from the developer (Chris Hughes):

“Journey through a world of evil monsters in this unique platformer. Marvel at the innovative level design and scale impossible feats, in an intriguing web of wall jumping fun. Ride powerful wind currents, uncover hidden keys, and much more. You are Chris Unarmed.”

The game impresses me for the variety of its challenges throughout the game. The levels you’ll play during the 8 minute free trial are straightforward enough, but later in the game you’ll encounter conveyor belts, spikes, rotating columns of fire, ice floors, columns of air that you can float on (or use to help hang on a wall), and more. Some levels take place underwater, changing the physics of your jumps; yet another takes place with many of the platforms in shadow and difficult to see, let alone land a jump on, something similar to the darker Astroman levels (though it’s worth noting this game came out over a year earlier).

Enemies become not only stronger and more numerous, but their abilities expand as you play the game. Usually in a platformer your powers expand along with them in some kind of jumping arms race, but that’s not the case here. So as the game wears on, your platforming skills will be put more and more to the test as both levels and enemies get more challenging, and your bag of tricks stays the same.

Replay value is enhanced not only after you’ve finished, but in a sense during the game itself. The after-game replay value is bolstered by keys that lead to optional challenge rooms, but the main game itself near the end has you playing through almost the entire game in reverse (plus a few more levels). It’s not easy to design levels that can be played effectively in reverse, and its a credit to Chris Hughes that he pulled it off so brilliantly. Finally, there’s a special something to be unlocked if you can collect enough coins throughout the game. If you’re a platformer fan, especially one that enjoys the platforming over modern trappings like complex puzzles and involved storylines, then this is one 80 Microsoft Point game not to miss.

Click here to download “Chris Unarmed”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.



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Comments
  1. Chris Hughes says:

    Thanks for the review, Steven. I’ve since released Chris Unarmed for free on Windows, at http://chrishughesgames.com/2010/12/06/chris-unarmed-free-on-windows.htm

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