Day 350: The Red Ring of Death

Posted: 2011/10/27 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 #350, and today’s game is “The Red Ring of Death”.

The very existence of “The Red Ring of Death” has something positive to say about the peer review process used for the Xbox Live Indie Games channel. I have trouble imagining Apple, Sony, Nintendo, or anyone else letting a game be released on their respective game channels (App Store, PSN Network, PSP Minis, WiiWare, DSiWare, etc.) that pokes even good-natured fun at their troubles. Yet here we have a game poking good-natured fun at the infamous “The Red Ring of Death” that plauged many early Xbox 360 systems. I had to try it, and it was a surprisingly fun game.

First, from the developer (FourthDimensional):

“In a foreign world where game consoles sometimes break down, it is up to you to pilot the Binary Utility Device and defeat the Red Ring of Death before your console gets fried.”

I’ve tried a lot of forced scrolling games like this and liked only a few, but the variety of “The Red Ring of Death” serves it well, with a decent arsenal of weapons and abilities such as the ubiquitous jump, a shield to temporarily protect yourself (timing is everything), a normal attack, an EMP super attack, and a freezing power. Do well without dying and you can also increase a score multiplier.

Uniquely for the genre, hitting a spike kills you instantly but coming in contact with an enemy merely damages your health bar. This makes the game a bit more forgiving than if every threat were a one-hit kill, and means that you have to pay attention not only to threats but to how dangerous each threat is when considering your next course of action. The game has catchy music and costs 80 Microsoft Points.

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