Day 211: Ladybird Galaxy

Posted: 2011/06/08 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 #211, and today’s game is “Ladybird Galaxy”.

Ladybird Galaxy has you collecting gems and shooting enemies in an odd combination of game styles that is something like “Pac Man” meets “Asteroids” and “Time Pilot” paired with the option of multiplayer. If that pedegree doesn’t recommend it, I don’t know what will.

First, from the developer (Kobingo):

“Steer your rocketship in the galaxy and boost your way through the stars. Pick up the gems and build up your combo multiplier for the highscore, but watch out for the evil ladybirds trying to destroy you. Play single player and co-op arcade or battle your friends in this fast-paced action game.”

I’ve been gaming since a Pong knock-off unit first got hooked up to the TV set when I was a child in the 1970s, so like a lot of people my age our first (and for many years only) exposure to 3D games was flight-sims. To many, likely most, of my generation the so-called “inverted” flight controls are correct and we don’t understand why they’re called anything other than standard.

While Ladybird Galaxy is a 2D game, I believe a similar reaction to control systems might be at work here. Some reviewers don’t like Ladybird Galaxy’s control system, but I love it for the same reason that they don’t: controls are always relative to the orientation of the ship you’re controlling, rather than to the screen. There’s an XBLIG called “Air Forte” that comes highly recommended, but I could get used to the controls: to pilot your ship to the upper right hand corner of the screen you push the analogue stick to the upper right. My instincts, weaned on 3D flight games as I was, is to push based on the orientation of the craft (push up to drop the nose, etc.). If you’re like me then you’ll love the controls, but they’re not for anyone (not that anything is, I suppose).

As for the game itself, it’s a curious beast. It plays a bit like an arena shooter, like Geometry Wars, but with the wrap-around scrolling of a game like Asteroids. It’s also very much a collect-’em-up, like Pac Man. You run around picking up gems which are your main method of earning points. You’re moving inexorably forward, so you can never stop (closer to Pac Man than Geometry Wars), but you have 360 degree freedom of movement (more like GW than PM). Like Pac Man, you can’t shoot… well, can’t shoot most of the time. Pick up a shooting star and you, in true Pac Man power pellet fashion, become able to destroy the enemy ladybugs on contact, as well as shoot as long as the shooting star is in effect.

The ladybugs are the game’s main enemy, and like the ghosts in Pac Man, you must generally avoid them. There is one other enemy though, a line that traverses the screen (horizontally, vertically, or even on a bit of an angle) and slowly scrolls across the entire screen; avoiding this line is accomplished by crossing the edge of the screen to wrap around to the other side.

To boost your score, stars periodically appear on screen and grabbing those will give you a speed boost and increase the points value of any gems collected until it wears off. The multiplayer mode has you and up to three friends competing in avoid-’em-up and collect-’em-up gameplay, and while it doesn’t add new modes or options to the game it does prove to be even more enjoyable with friends than solo.

Ladybird Galaxy was originally 200 points, but migrated to the 80 MSP price point when the price thresholds changed. It’s not the deepest of games, but it’s worth the 80 Microsoft Points and offers simple gameplay that is both enjoyable and challenging.

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



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