Energy Crisis? What Energy Crisis?
Debuting in late 2008 alongside the New Xbox Experience, Xbox Live Indie Games have always been somewhat of a mixed bag. Often there have been truly fantastic titles such as I Ma3d A Gam3 W1th Zombies 1n It that have become cult classics in their own right, gaining a substantial amount of downloads and giving the beginner developers who created the games the confidence to take their games to other platforms that are more difficult to develop for.
However, for every decent and original title, there are shameless Minecraft clones and pathetic dating simulators released in droves. To get the more original titles some exposure, several Indie Games advocates have created an event known as the Indie Games Summer Uprising. As part of the Indie Games Summer Uprising, there have been 10 titles selected by developers and gamers alike as worthy of promotion as indicators of exactly what Indie Games can do. Tesla Energy Collector 3001 (or T.E.C. 3001) is one such game selected as a pioneer of what students and hobbyists can make. After paying the measly 240msp (ú3) to download the title, it becomes almost immediately apparent why it was selected.
Run Robot Run!
Created by Phoenix Games Studios, a Serbian-based developer comprised mainly of students, T.E.C. 3001 boasts gameplay reminiscent of a whole host of titles ranging from Sonic Adventure to Trials H.D. The premise of the game is simple enough to understand- you play as a battery-collecting robot who has to rapidly accelerate his way through various challenging levels, all whilst collecting as many batteries of energy as possible and going as fast as possible. The more batteries you collect, as well as how fast you make it to the end of the level and how many obstacles you destroy determine the score and ratings you get at the end. It's a simple enough game to pick up and play, helped with the controls being easy to master, and is very difficult to stop playing once you've been sucked in.
Once you're enthralled by the game, however, it soon kicks up the difficulty a notch without warning. Whilst in the earlier levels the robot has no trouble jumping over and sliding under obstacles, it soon becomes ludicrously difficult to manoeuvre its way through the various levels at breakneck speeds. This requires forward thinking, quick reactions and dexterity. For those of you who enjoyed the challenge that Trials H.D possessed, T.E.C. 3001 is a perfect addition to your library.
Hop, Skip and Jump
Graphically the game is beautiful, with the Tron-influenced setting being aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with the game's presentation being better than some Xbox Live Arcade Games I have played in recent years. It's an impressive achievement to make a game that looks this good on your first attempt. The presentation is helped even further by the infectious music that plays in the background and during the menu screens. The electronic soundtrack will lodge in your mind so that you absent-mindedly begin humming along to it as you hop, skip and jump your way through the game's single-player campaign.
Despite the overall feeling that T.E.C. 3001 is a brilliant game, it isn't without its downsides. With only 21 levels at launch and no multiplayer modes, a skilled and patient player can whizz through the whole game in about 3-4 hours. For the less skilled among you, it will take you sometime to complete the game, with the suddenly steep learning curve frustrating as many people as it will excite.
Collision: Not detected
T.E.C. 3001 isn't without a few technical faults either. Often there are collision detection problems when the robot appears to land right on the edge of a certain ledge or platform, only to fall through it to its death. Now, I'm not sure if it is the fault of the developers or a limitation of the XNA coding, but it can get pretty annoying to have the feeling of elation at making a difficult jump instantly replaced with annoyance.
Despite these minor faults, T.E.C. 3001 manages to be an exciting and engaging game with simple controls that will reward all of those who stumble through the Xbox Live Indie Games catalogue just to find it. It is a real diamond in the rough, and is arguably the best game that Indie Games has to offer so far. High score freaks will be hooked for hours trying to beat their last score, and speed freaks will find the blurred feeling of breakneck speed as you platform your way across the levels absolutely exhilarating.
A brilliant indie game that is both fun and challenging, with great visuals and a budget price-tag. The soundtrack is catchy and controls are simple to use.
No multiplayer, only 21 levels at the moment. A handful of clipping and collision detection issues.