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DW Does Indie, part four

By Damien Wilkens
02 August 2011 Now this is a story all about how
My 80 points got spent, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute to just sit over here
I got five more Indie Games to play. Oh dear.

Editor's note: The Marketplace descriptions have been copied verbatim poor grammar and all.

Shoot or Date
Marketplace Description: If only there was a third option...

The Game: There is. Don't buy the game.

Shoot or Date is another fine piece of software from the people at Silver Dollar Games, the makers of A Killer's Dream, Don't B Nervous Talking 2 Girls, and Mind Warp. At this point you're probably saying, "But, Damien, all of those games suck," and you would indeed be correct. They are the LJN of the Indie Game Marketplace, both in quantity and quality. A big part of the reason why their games suck so much is the fact that the entirety of their budget goes into acquiring royalty-free images of pretty people and overloading all of their games with a fuck ton of them, regardless of whether or not they have any sort of in-game context.

In Shoot or Die you are given a gender to be attracted to. (Why a budget video game thinks it has the gumption to make such a decision for me, I don't know.) The game then starts with a series of photos. Whenever a hottie of specified gender shows up, you press the "date" button. Whenever someone with a gun shows up, you press the "shoot" button. That's it. That's the game. Sometimes the picture will be of a person pointing at you, or making a gun with their fingers. This is intended to fool you? No, that's a legit question, I have no idea.

Dollar Equivalent: Stapling a dollar to your forehead. It hurts and you're an idiot for doing it.

The Quest for Freshness
Marketplace Description: Visit far away places. Build Towers. Stare Death in the face. Defeat Odor. Find Freshness. Smell great. Be a man. Gameplay revolves around constructing defenses to protect your extractor from the hordes of critters that will attempt to destroy it. The game consists of 6 levels spanning two worlds with unique enemies, and the difficulty increasing as the game progresses.

The Game: Well, it's a tower defense game advertising Old Spice. Don't look at me like that.

You play as Carl, a young man burdened by furious odor (great band name). He embarks on a journey to Fuji to beat the crap out of some crows and dog-monster-things with deodorant and guns. Mainly deodorant. I mean, it's an okay game. Just kinda begs an obvious question. Namely, why?

I get that Old Spice is a laid-back company, but how do they possibly think this will benefit them? Sure, you can probably rationalize that some overzealous advertiser went rogue, and this just slipped through the cracks. The main problem with that logic is that this isn't the only Old Spice game. Oh no! There are at least three more of these things. Is someone going to play one of these games, completely aware of the process involved in purchasing and activating a Live account, that had somehow gone through life oblivious to the existence of antiperspirant? Are total slobs a target audience for Xbox Live? You know what, don't answer that.

Dollar Equivalent: A travel-sized stick of Old Spice, which ironically enough will do tons more for your ability to determine whether or not you like Old Spice.

Virtual Attraction - Part 1
Marketplace Description: Introducing Part 1 of the Virtual Attraction Series! A training system designed to teach you how to attract beautiful women, regardless of whether you are short, fat, poor, or bald! Each part in the series draws on research from many scientific disciplines, and comes with a manual, questionnaire, exercises, and a simulation that will help take you from zero-to-hero with the ladies!

The Game: Amazing on a number of different levels. First of all it's an Xbox game designed to help you with women. I know what you're thinking: "I won't need help after I show her my bitchin' GI Joe collection." But apparently there's more to it than that. Seriously, the game comes with 40 pages of reading material, then quizzes you on it, then has you exchange virtual pick-up lines with the upper torso and head of a Poser model. It's not as pathetic as it sounds. It's way more pathetic than it sounds.

The funny thing is, it actually seems like some honest effort was put into this. It's not often that you fire up the 360 to read an essay on the inner workings of the female mammalian brain, but I don't think they needed 40 pages to say "be an emotionally distant prick." It's a pretty simple concept, and one that I had mastered even before I gave them my money. I'll admit that the pick-up simulation is amusing, if nothing else. It's really just the aforementioned Poser model insulting you, and you responding with an amazingly witty pick-up line. For example, if she says, "You're boring," the correct response is, "I don't think your ex-boyfriend used to spank you hard enough."

Wait... what? I'm gonna go try that.

...

So the doctor says it's only a partial break. May need to keep this wire in for another week, but I should be able to experience the majesty of chewing again before winter.

Dollar Equivalent: Donate a dollar to Earth-2.net. Mike will then give me your e-mail address, and I'll send you a message telling you that women are complex and emotionally fickle creatures that are only out to steal your precious life energy. The benefit will be just about the same in the long run.

Bloody Checkers
Marketplace Description: This Medieval Game emerged from the dark ages to settle violent matters in a more civilized way.... Work your way through the 3D adventure, rescue the Queen, and play against 20 members of the royal family. Explore the Castle. Level up. Learn spells. Purchase traps. Play online. Destroy your opponents in the most violent game of checkers ever seen.

The Game: An interesting mix between Shadowgate, Deception, and plain old checkers. It's wacky, completely original, and just the kind of game that the Indie Marketplace was made for. You start outside of a creepy castle, armed only with a candle and some gold pieces. Navigating the interior, you find worn portraits of long-dead nobles and challenge their spirits to a game of checkers, which may actually be the greatest concept for anything ever.

What really makes Bloody Checkers so great is the amount of depth involved. You have to constantly make sure that your candle stays lit to navigate the darkness, and carefully place traps during your checker matches, which will reward you with gold. It also allows you to attack a ghost with an army of bees, which is something I can now cross of my bucket list. That's not even getting into the leveling system, loot, and the skeleton shopkeeper. And it has online multiplayer! Honestly, given the sheer amount of stuff to do with this game, I feel guilty only paying a dollar for it. This could be a regular-priced XBLA game with very little modification. Buy it now.

Dollar Equivalent: Those sweet jeans you found at the Goodwill. Great value, but you feel like you're cheating.

Why Did I Buy This?
Marketplace Description: It's you versus the telemarketer. The only way to win is to lose.

The Game: Another gem from our friends at Silver Dollar Games. The "game" is literally just the screen pictured below, accompanied by audio of a telemarketer trying to convince you to buy it. Yeah. Very meta.

That's all there is to it. It's a self-admitted joke game, but jokes, especially one's you're asked to pay for, aren't usually funny. Hell, I supply a steady stream of hilarious bon mots for free, so a game like this kinda already gets my dander up. The fact that it's made by the king of indie shovelware just makes it that much worse. I can only imagine this game was made in response to critics, like myself, that are tired of shitty games crowding the Indie Marketplace. You see, unlike similar services, Microsoft apparently has no approval process in place for XBLA games. This is a big reason there are 20 new games coming out every single week, with 18 of them being from Silver Dollar Games and the other two being the good ones.

The snarky self-awareness that comes with releasing so much shit is where the creation of this game comes from. The developer not only knows he's burying potentially good titles in the unorganized virtual sea, he's laughing about it. "Bro, any publicity is good publicity," he's probably saying after vanity-searching his way to this article. And like watching a Friedberg and Seltzer movie, I'm forced to respond with the following: Parody. Does. Not. Exclude. You. From. Critique.

Ever.

If you suck, and you acknowledge that you suck, that just makes one more person that knows you suck. And suck you do.

Dollar Equivalent: Having someone put a silver dollar on your forehead, then hitting yourself in the back of the head to knock it off. By the time you realize you've been tricked, it's too late.

I figure this would be a good time to let everyone know that I'm done with Silver Dollar Games. I've given them more than enough of my time and money, and I will now be avoiding them like the plague. If my rantings here have accomplished anything, I can only hope you do the same.


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