Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Octopede (XBLIG): "Something Borrowed, Something New"

Recently 'Orbital Games' released their XBLIG title "Octopede" on the Xbox LIVE marketplace. I didn't really know much about the game until after the developer contacted me about doing a review. This is the way it sometimes goes. After being contacted I ended up watching some gameplay footage from aaronthesplazer's youtube channel. My first impressions were that the game looked like a new take on the old snake game. I thought it would be something I might enjoy playing. Once I got the code from 'Orbital Games' I downloaded it, and waited until this morning to try it out. I found some interesting gameplay features, and some not so user friendly features. I wound up having to wing it when it came to figuring out the controls to the game, but being the video game master that I am I was able to do so fairly easily. The following paragraph/s will detail what I found while playing "Octopede" ...

Octopede seems to be a mash-up of classic video games. It features shmup style gameplay with mechanics that seem to mirror classic games such as 'snake', and the old millipede/centipede games. The graphics are nicely polished with a sort of neon appearance, and has an arcade cabinet style surrounding. The music is energetic, and quite enjoyable to listen to. It definitely reminded me of the old 8-bit arcade cabinet game's music from back in the day. There are many different ways to score in 'Octopede' but the main focus is on keeping your snake's/octopede's length intact. You'll encounter various shmup style power-ups, and weapons in the game. You'll also find that the game has obstacles (walls), and enemies that change in appearance and number as you make progress. Aside from all of those fine details the game also has a leaderboard, but I'm not sure if it actually works since I was unable to get my name placed on it.

Gameplay in "Octopede" revolves around the old 'snake' game mechanics, and shmup style action. As the gamer you control a blue square (octopede) that gets longer in length as you collect green circles that are placed randomly on the square shaped playing field. There are also power-ups that can be picked up in the same fashion as the green dots. The various power-ups offer different ways of protecting your octopede including land mines, different shots, and different weapons. The object of the game is simply to last as long as you can, and get as many points as you can. This task is complicated by the fact that there are walls, and enemies (shaded in red & orange) constantly moving, and changing position on the playing field. As the octopede you can blast through walls, and enemies considering that you have some length to your tail and that you have the power-ups to back it up. As you collect more, and more green dots your tail will grow, and the enemies/obstacles will become increasingly more difficult to avoid. Once you get a "Game Over" you will be prompted to input your name for the leaderboard via the Xbox keypad.

I'm not going to be able to give accurate details to the controls in 'Octopede' simply because the developer made the game's tutorial almost impossible to read. In fact this is the not so user friendly feature that I mentioned at the beginning of this review. The words in the tutorial's description are too small, and the gameplay diagrams just don't explain what's going on in the game very well. With that being said I can still give you the basics of the control layout. To begin with the (Left Thumbstick) will be used for movement. You can move your snake/octopede in all directions including diagonal if you set it to do so in the options menu. The only other buttons I found that you can use involve different shmup style attacks. These buttons include the (Left Bumper, Left Trigger, Right Bumper, and Right Trigger). I do know for certain that the (Right Trigger) fires shots, and the (Right Bumper) fires special weapons. As for the (Left Bumper & Left Trigger) I'm not entirely sure, but I do know they control mines and movement in some way. Not having a proper control layout/diagram really complicates my job of delivering the details to you.

In conclusion I found this game to be fun, and somewhat frustrating. The game is definitely fun to play, but it isn't without flaws. I found that the tutorial was useless, because the words were too small to read. The gameplay diagrams didn't offer much help either. I also experienced some lagging during the game especially when the screen was full of activity and numerous enemies/obstacles. The lag was definitely there, but it wasn't as bad as I've seen in some indie games. Aside from that the game offered a solid arcade style gameplay experience. It was a neat concept that borrowed from past video game ideas, and was presented in a visually impressive fashion. In the end I do wish the developer would patch the tutorial though, and make it readable. If this was done I'd definitely say that "Octopede" was a game worth adding to your library. I also think it would be great if online leaderboards were a part of the game. I'm not quite sure if the leaderboards work at all after doing my playthrough of the game which is another concern I have.

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