The Indie Game Gems feature will focus on the hidden treasures that can be found on your XBox 360 for just one dollar. For those that don’t look up from the latest Call of Duty long enough to notice, XBox Live Indie Games contains a massive amount of games created mostly by smaller studios and downloaded for very little money.
This section will sort through the heavily stocked shelves of XBox Live Indie Games to find the hidden gems that will provide fun well worth the low prices.
We start this regular feature with Mr. Gravity, a game developed by students at the University of Utah and released last spring. The object of the game is to help a happy little fellow named Mr. Gravity traverse through a maze and reach his bride Mrs. Gravity, who is patiently waiting somewhere else in the maze.
Along the way, Mr. Gravity must use the power of gravity he holds to cling to walls and avoid spikes and obstacles. He also must collect as many gems as possible along the way, though he can complete a level without doing so. Once he reaches his smiley wife at the end of the maze the level ends.
Mr. Gravity nails the feel of some of the earliest days of video gaming. The concept sounds simple enough and seems easy enough at first glance, yet is difficult to master. It doesn’t take long for the game to become quite challenging yet still manages to find a perfect balance that allows it to frustrate you just enough to make you keep trying again rather than turn it off. I felt reminded of what hooked me on the original Lode Runner on my oldCommodore 64 in the 1980s on some of the upper levels of Mr. Gravity, as the more frustrated I grew each time a narrow move saw me crash into a spike the more I wanted to beat the dang level because I felt I could.
At the end of each level the player is awarded stars based on their performance in the areas of gem collection, speed of completion and how many lives were needed to get to the end. You need certain amounts of stars to unlock later worlds, giving the player a reason to go back to earlier levels again and play them in different manners in order to obtain them.
The graphics for a game like this don’t need to be complex yet don’t need to be too simple, and Mr. Gravity nails this aspect to. The fairly simple graphics are given a color vector look and glow, reminiscent of classics such as Tempest and more modern hits such as Geometry Wars. Both characters in the game change facial expressions based on what is going on in the level with a simple yet fun charm. The background music is excellent, especially for an indie game, and adds a great extra element for the player while attempting difficult moves.
Mr. Gravity is well worth the price of 80 Microsoft points (or $1.00 in human talk) and far more. It manages to bring several original and uncommon puzzle game aspects together to make a challenging yet addicting puzzler with far more replay value than most puzzle games from far bigger game studios.
Please share this article with your friends before trying the game for yourself or you might not be back on the internet for quite some time. You can download the game from the XBox website by clicking here.
Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.