When Microsoft rejigged the Xbox 360â€™s dashboard they hid the Indie Games section away in a dark and dusty corner. The community rebelled and now the Indie Games section has been moved to a place where itâ€™s impossible to ignore – you have to scroll past it to get to the popular demo section. Since the shuffle I take a gander at peopleâ€™s homebrew creations more regularly, so if it wasnâ€™t for that indie uprising I probably wouldnâ€™t have discovered radiangames Ballistic – a game so good it could be a proper Xbox Live Arcade game.
Itâ€™s not stunningly original – itâ€™s a single screen twin-stick shooter, much like Geometry Wars – but itâ€™s a treat for the eyes, with some lovely sharp visuals, and it does have a few ideas up its techocolour sleeves. Firstly, you can choose a â€˜load outâ€™ between waves which includes the ability to move slightly quicker and bounce bullets off walls. Secondly, all the enemies are spherical – some move around aimlessly while others kamikaze their way across the screen. Later shielded enemies appear who can only be attacked from behind.
The main mode simply gives you waves of enemies to blast, with your score then added to the leaderboard once you’ve snuffed it. You can continue from the last wave you got to, so thereâ€™s no need to start from scratch every time you play. Challenge mode, meanwhile, is something that more than lives up to its name – in each challenge you have to survive for two minutes and gain a high score. On some challenges you only get one life, while during others the screen gets incredibly crowded (in a good way). The odds can be evened by â€˜going ballisticâ€™ by holding down the trigger to temporarily increase firepower. The downside of this is that thereâ€™s a cool down period where you canâ€™t shoot at all for five seconds or so.
My only minor gripe is that seemingly for the sake of being stylish, pointless statistics – such as total enemies killed – are listed on the left-hand side of the screen, which makes the playing area more cluttered than it needs to be.
With Geometry Wars 3 now a pipe dream seeing that Bizarre Creations have been scrubbed off Activisonâ€™s payroll, this is easily the next best thing. Eugene Jarvis would be proud.