The future of this site


All right, so it has come down to this. I love all of the experiences I have had in the XBLIG scene over the last few months, but I am going on haitus for at least the semester for reviewing games. Not only do I have to study (maybe), I also want to focus on developing my own games. It has been awesome, but I have things in my life that have shot to the forefront that I would prefer to focus on as well. Thanks for all the fun. If you for some reason don’t know about other XBLIG sites visit:

indiegamerchick.com
gearfish.com
armlessoctpus.com
twofedoras.com
vvgtv.com

Also, remove all of your credit card information from your XBL account ASAP. The hacking have started to escalate and I refuse to believe it is phising on all accounts. So for your own safety, remove credit card details and try to set up as many precautions as possible.

On a more personal note, I just returned from a college Christian conference (Passion 2012). It was an amazing experience an has changed my outlook on a lot of things. Just having the striking comparison’s between how Christians in America act and how the Bible says we should act is eye opening. The only reason I go to the church I go to is because the pastor is incredible and screams for revival every week, but unfortunately gets next to no response from the congregation. If you do consider yourself a Christian,  I would highly suggest reading Esphesians in depth to try to fully understand what your actions as a Christian should look like.

On that note, I will be posting regularly is this blog: http://christianlifeincollege.blogspot.com/ hopefully

Goodbye everyone, hopefully you will be able to play some of my games in the near/distant/somewhere in between future. It has been real. God bless

Oozi: Earth Adventure Episode 2 Review


Oozi: Earth Adventure Ep. 2

Game: Oozi: Earth Adventure Ep. 2
Genre: Platformer
1 player
Creators: AwesomeGamesStudio (Facebook) (Blog)
$1 (80 msp)
8.75/10

All right, time to come clean.  I do not really play a lot of platformers.  By platformer I mean get to the end, restart at checkpoint if you die platformers. Games like Super Meat Boy and VolChaos being a different breed of game in my opinion (Which is all that matters here, and if you think otherwise haha de haha). Platformers have just never really appealed to me in the ways that other games have. Oozi is different. The game had me clamoring for more all the way until the final boss fight. I feel like every thing was polished and fine-tuned to make a great platformer. There are positives, and there are negatives, but that doesn’t stop Oozi 2 from being a must play for all people who are at least indifferent to platformers.

Let me start out with this warning. Oozi is not meant to be played like a fast paced game in the main story. The game is perfectly laid out so you can leisurely stroll through the game and take minimal damage. For some reason the speed crazed, suicidal maniac in me decided that going  through the game as fast as humanly possible was a good idea. It is not a good idea at all. Take the game slowly and enjoy the ride. If you want fast paced, check out Arcade Mode, which is basically a time trial of every level.

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Image from Oozi: Earth Adventure Ep. 2

Standard Platforming Procedure: Dodge those rocks

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How about we discuss level design? Sound good? Well since you have no objections… The level design in Oozi is solid to say the least. There are plenty of little side paths and treasure holes to seek out. One issue I did have was the length and difficulty between checkpoints. Rarely you would come to a difficult part in the game, and that part always seemed to be right in front of a checkpoint. Frustration tends to occur when you do the same two minute sequence over and over just to die at a very hard part. Maybe if I would have been on normal mode as opposed to Hardcore I might not have experiences these troubling experiences. Because I am such a thorough reviewer, I completely forgot to check and see what the difference between Hardcore and Normal is. I assume it has nothing to do with the level or enemies and has all to do with the amount of health you start with from the beginning of the level and after each checkpoint. In the end just know that the game is completely playable and fun on Hardcore, so playing on Normal should be no different. I seem to have gotten off of the topic of level design, which is what the topic sentence of this paragraph is about. Put that in your pipe and smoke it english class, I don’t need your fancy rules.

All right, now onto my favorite portion of the game: star collecting. Each map houses 5 hidden stars that you must track down and recover. Apparently these stars went to Harvard or something and are more important than the other bajillion stars on each map. If you manage to collect all 5 hidden stars on each map, you will unlock a special challenge map. I found all 5 stars in three out of five levels on my first playthrough, and then went back to pick up the ones I missed. I found searching for the stars on each level to be my main motivation to continuing the game. Don’t get me wrong, everything else is solid, but I am not a big enough fan of platformers to have finished the game without the stars. The bonus missions you receive from said stars are great additions to the game, For example, one level has your main goal to get to the end, but your secondary goals are to kill all enemies and not take damage. The little things like that are what make this game truly enjoyable.

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Image from Oozi: Earth Adventure Ep. 2

Those bats look so menacing

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Now time to talk about the graphics and audio. I usually spend next to no time on graphics or audio or anything else in that department. Here is where I break the rules. The graphics in Oozi are some of the most polished graphics on XBLIG, if not the most polished graphics on the entire service. The completely hand-drawn artwork is pretty incredible. The animation is flawless, the character models are great, and the environments are well put together. Basically this game has everything down in the visual department. Check out the trailer down below or the images scattered throughout this article if you do not believe me. Also the audio is pretty awesome. I have the main menu music playing in the background right now as I furiously type this review.

I should probably cover controls at some point considering this is a game. It is solid and polished in almost all departments. My only two complaints in that department are the fact that wall jumping feels clunky and that your character does not turn around fast enough in mid-air for my liking. The other things you can do, like jump, ground pound, punch, etc. are all very fine-tuned.

One element of the game I was worried about going in was the progression of the gameplay. How would the levels change? Well early on there was not much difference and the obligatory ice level was the weak point, and that level was still pretty good. As the game moved past the ice level it just continued to get better and better. There were “puzzles” added into the mix, as well as new objects to use and enemies to deal with. The progression throughout the game was very well done in my opinion. It was so well done, I did not notice it until I forced myself to think about it for this review, so obviously it is doing its job. The entire game felt cohesive and… just right I guess. The constant addition of different level layouts and puzzle types made the game feel fresh all the way until the end.

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Image from Oozi: Earth Adventure Ep. 2

I apologize if you have already played the boss battle

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The extra stuff thrown into the game like challenge mode and arcade mode are just icing on the cake. The main game took me maybe 90 minutes to finish, plus 15 minutes to back track and find the stars I missed. There are 11 challenge maps, which is more than enough to tide you over until Oozi Episode 3. The challenges range from evading lava to just finishing the level, but with secondary objectives. Only a true Oozi master will 3 star all of the challenges. The arcade mode is just a speed run of the main game, but you have to get a certain amount of points to get 1, 2, or 3 stars. Arcade mode is insane because you have to beat the whole level without dying. Not for the faint of heart. It should also be noted that the challenge maps are completely different from the main game maps.

Now we get to the end of the game… the boss fight. Quite possibly the worst boss fight in a game I have ever played. If at all possible, just do not play the boss fight. Unless you have some physiological need to torture yourself with terrible boss fights. It is not necessary for anything. It might unlock another bonus stage, so it might be worth it if you need another bonus stage. Honestly the boss fight is what leaves bad memories of this game in my mind.

In the end, without the boss battle, Oozi is one of the most polished platformers on XBLIG. But as the guys over at GameMarx said in their trail of the game, it just feels like it is missing something. That unidentifiable something is what is keeping Oozi from being one of the best games all around on XBLIG.

VolChaos First Impressions


VolChaos

Game: VolChaos
Genre: Punish-former (or Punishformer for the anti-hyphens out there)
1 player
Creators: Fun Infused Games (twitter) (youtube)
80 msp

I think it is official. I have an odd habit of playing through a game and putting up a First Impression, and never doing a review. I am going to assume it is the sheer quantity of games on the XBLIG that I see and like enough to buy, but never finish. I believe I have only one game that I did a First Impressions and a Review for (Cute Things Dying Violently). All of that aside, I don’t do reviews much anyway because of school and other assorted things that get in the way. That will change because through my genius maneuvers I have managed to manipulate my school schedule next semester to be way more favorable. Go me. But thanks for reading, cause as long as somebody gets to find an indie game they love to play I helped in some way right? RIGHT?! Thanks for agreeing. Anyway, onto my First Impressions of VolChaos, which is a very fun game so far.

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Image from VolChaos

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Pros:

– Great level design
— The mix between collecting gems and actually surviving
— The music and graphics are quite enjoyable
— The humor of the background story and captions before each level
— Gameplay is easy to get used to
— Addition of Expert levels

Cons:

– Loading between death and respawn (will be fixed in about a week)
— Slow saving (will be fixed in a week)
— Jump controls are a bit floaty and feel off a bit (will be maybe tweaked in about a week)
— No countdown (will be maybe fixed in about a week)
— Lack of online leaderboards (although those are always next to useless on XBLIG)

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Image from VolChaos

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The premise of VolChaos is that you have to get to the finish line before the lava rises and kills you. Naturally when you get to the finish your guy stops to celebrate instead of continuing to run. Obviously I am just joking, I love the fact that there are so many levels instead of 20 long, difficult levels. It has the Super Meat Boy feel of “If I die I won’t go back that far, so it is not that bad”.
So far I have really enjoyed the first half of VolChaos. I have finished levels 1-20, collecting all the gems, and beating expert mode. I do not list this to brag, but to show what I have played. I have heard that some levels in the end become difficult to a point of frustration, but to each their own. I highly suggest you get this game just for the sheer amount of content it has. I would have been completely fine with just the 20 levels I played for 80 msp, so the rest for me is just gravy on the cake, or something like that. The controls are a bit floaty, but feel like they are tuned enough  for the task at hand. After about 45 minutes to an hour of playing I started to feel like I was getting very good with the controls.
There are also many different ways of getting through the levels. You start out with your standard platforming, then throw in some trampolines, moving platforms, and enemies and you start to a great time. The level design itself is somewhat of a marvel. It is not often XBLIG gets levels designed this well for what they have to do. In the standard stages you have to beat the level with the option of picking up all the gems on the way to the finish in order to unlock expert mode for that level. I would advise everyone to just play like you are going for all of the gems from the beginning, because that is more fun than just finishing the level. The Expert levels suffer from the slow loading bug (that will be patched) as of right now. They are still playable, you just have to deal with it every time you respawn. I will probably wait until the patch goes live to play through those levels, since all you do on those levels are get to the finish, and being a half second off will kill you.
In the end, VolChaos is very fun so far. The upcoming patch seems to be geared towards fixing a lot of issues gamers are having with the game. My suggestion, even after only playing the first 20 levels (out of 42) is to get it. Unless you hate fun.
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Here are some other reviews:
NeoGAF awarded VolChaos the Gold Award for the month of November (even though it is titled December)
Kairi Vice’s (IndieGamerChick) review/rant about old games with a very nice discussion in the comments
Extra Guy gave VolChaos an A

DLC Quest Review


DLC Quest

DLC Quest
Platformer
1 Player
Creator: Going Loud Studios —— Twitter: (@benkane, @goingloudstudios)
$1 (80 msp)
8.5/10

Who doesn’t love a good satire? Heartless people you say? Yup, that covers it. No matter how you dress it up, DLC has become ridiculous in at least 50% of all cases, and DLC Quest creator Ben Kane knows it. And instead of complaining to the forums, crying home to his mommy, and buying the DLC anyway, he decided to do something about it. Make fun of it. Not only does DLC Quest openly mock the concept of DLC, but it openly mocks a lot of game concepts we have come to recognize as commonplace and unavoidable. The sheer hilarity of everything I had to do to continue on with the game made me play from beginning to end all in one sitting, which is rare in an indie game. Even though the game is 40 minutes to an hour long, I still see that as a compliment. In the end, you will play DLC Quest once, and maybe fire it back up for the awardments or the alternate ending, and then never play it again. That could be anywhere from 30-90 minutes of play. Yet the game still managed to entertain me the entire time I was playing it, which is hard to do.

The concept of the gameplay itself is very, very simple. You run, jump, and attack your way through the game to get to the final boss. Eventually the potential of the game is smacking you right in the face. I found myself at the end of the game wondering “What if there were puzzles?” Honestly I felt like this game deserved puzzles of some kind as well as side quests. Nothing necessary to the completion of the main game. I believe there was so much room for side quest satire, puzzle satire, dungeon satire, etc. How cool would it be to buy side quest DLC or expansion pack DLC with extra coins that you have at the end of the game? Super cool. Maybe that would have taken away from the overall satire of the game, but I believe in Ben’s abilities to not do that.

no spoilers here

The controls are great 95% of the time, but the other 5% you might get a bit frustrated. Nothing that will make you throw your controller, or quit the game forever, but the controls could have been a bit tighter. The learning curve of this game is interesting because it is based on buying DLC. You can all of your abilities besides moving to the right from buying DLC. This is cool because even the most casual of gamers will be able to stay on track with the learning curve. Anybody who has ever played a Platformer will have no issue though.

The story of this game is where it really shines the brightest. Satire is such a difficult type of comedy to pull off without being annoying or being too “in your face”. DLC Quest pokes fun at literally everything I can think of. I really do not want to list any of them here so I don’t ruin your experience either. Believe me, you will enjoy all of the jokes that the game makes, DLC related or not. Something that really compliments the story is the awardments. You know, achievements some indie developers put into their games just for their game? The awardments add extra incentive to explore the whole map and find all of the DLC packs. They won’t take but an extra 10 minutes of your time once you beat the whole game. It is not often that the awardments of an indie game are so in-tune with the game itself. They do not require much extra effort, and are quite fun and make you feel accomplished.

In the end, you will enjoy this game a lot more if you have a sense of humor. If you don’t have a sense of humor don’t bother, we don’t want you here anyway! The game is easily worth the price of admission, and leaves you longing for more.

Other Reviews:

Indie Gamer Chick (aka Kairi “I will suck out all developer’s souls” Vice) reviewed this game and said “just get it”. So listen to her, or she will come find you and probably laugh at you.

Geoff over at Two Fedoras gave this game a 7 out of 10 and admits his darkest secret, he finds main character’s attack motion cute. Then proceeds to tell you to shut up. Juicy stuff.

There are other reviews too, but my laziness kicks in after 2 links. Just go buy the game. Now.

Long time no post


Hello. If you happen to be one of the 20 people max who will read this, congrats. You have nothing else to do with you day apparently. You might want to leave now before you lose all dignit…. too late. Anyway I have not posted in forever because of school and the work that comes with it, the commute that comes with it, and other assorted things. I have been playing some video games, but thank goodness this past while of indie games has been kind of a flop. There have been games like Dead Pixels, Dark Delve, etc., but not as many good games as the summer had. Oh yeah, other video games have been coming out too. So far we have had Batman: Arkham City (which is by far the best game I have played this year) and Battlefield 3 released in the last few weeks. Maybe indie developers realize that the last month and the next few months are terrible times to release games.

In PC Indie game news, its Humble Bundle time again! This time I was especially intrigued because as of right now the bundle includes the amazing XBLIG Blocks that Matter, the second game from the creators of Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, and some other game the bundle was built for. Honestly I just bought it for Blocks that Matter and The Binding of Isaac. I would highly suggest checking it out. Blocks that Matter seems to support an xbox 360 controller, so that is nice. The cool thing about the humble bundles is you pay what you want, which is usually a lot lower than normal price. I would pay at least 5 dollars so you don’t come off as a jerk. You have to pay about 5 right now to get more than Voxatron anyway. Pick it up now!

That being said, November is looking somewhat promising for indie games. I am looking forward to 3 indie games in particular:

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Escape Goat      Escape Goat (released for 240 msp) from the creator of Soulcaster I and II

Looks to be a great puzzle game. Is a great puzzle game. Whether or not there is enough content to justify the 240 msp price tag when the amount of content in the game is less than 50 MB remains to be seen.

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DLC Quest   DLC Quest (released for 80 msp) from the creator of Lair of the Evildoer

– Looks to be a fun platformer/RPG with lots of satire. And Horse Armor!! Review coming soon. Buy it.

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Volchaos (will release next week) from the creator of HSOoC and Nasty

– Interesting speed platformer with things like coins to collect, extreme levels, etc.

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I am looking forward to all of these games because 1) they are from competent developers who have made great games 2) they all seem to have something original and unique 3) They look awesome to play.

Now onto the topic of AAA games. Arkham City is awesome, Skyrim is almost here (at that point you won’t see me for awhile), and Battlefield and Modern Warfare fanboys are still having a crying contest (while the world continues not to care). Halo CE AE is coming out soon. I will not be getting it yet, maybe once I move into the dorm it would be nice to have. The holiday season is quickly upon us, so I expect a huge lull in indie games. Sure we are going to see Volchaos release, but after 11/8 your ability to sell games starts to get lower and lower by the day. Hopefully I am wrong and we see an awesome indie game that sells well, but that is doubtful. I am hoping good games don’t get buried by the holiday season AAA game rush.

I have also been working on my own game ideas. I think of myself as not completely stupid because the first idea I am fleshing out is just taking breakout and messing around with it and making it fun. Notice how I said “idea”. Well that is because with my workload in the honors college I have not been able to do any extra programming at all. But, in the middle of boring classes, I have been able to fill up 30 pages or so in a game design notebook of assorted ideas. I am thinking about learning C++ whenever I have the time, because Java just won’t cut it. Hopefully I can get some more time over winter break and next semester, but I have ideas! I promise.

That is all.

PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death Review


PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death

PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death
Platformer
1 player
Creator: Magiko Gaming
$1 (80 msp)
Rating: 8/10

The title PLATFORMANCE: Temple Death does not have a great connotation to it, but it does let you know exactly how the game will go. The game’s title is telling you that you will die and that your death will involve Platforming. Yup, that sums it up. This game promises you that, and it delivers in a very good way.

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The whole game is right up there^

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Basically you are a man with a spiffy hat and a whip. A “Princess” seems to have gotten herself trapped. Naturally it is your job to… come on, you have played this concept through before…

“Kill her?”

…. no ….

“Ummm…. –insert sexual comment here–“

What kind of games do you play?!? Try again.

“Save her”

No you id… wait, no that is right. You have to save her. The whole point of this game is to rescue this girl who has managed to get herself chained up in the middle of a trap laden maze. You must run, jump, die, drown, impale yourself, swim, bounce, die, and get crushed on your way to do so. The deaths are optional, but will probably happen if it is your first run through of the game. So it is clear you will die many times, but you will have checkpoints. Sometimes there will be a checkpoint right after 1 jump, and sometimes after a bunch of jumps and climbs, but in my opinion (which is the only thing that matters here) the checkpoints are laid out perfectly throughout the whole game. I never once found that a checkpoint was too far away, so therefore I never got frustrated, so therefore I had fun. And that is the whole point of gaming, fun. Some people seem to have forgotten that in their pre-pubescent rants in the middle of a CoD or Halo match, but that is a topic for a different day. Temple Death was a lot of fun, and that is more than enough reason to buy it.

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That rock is probably bloody for a reason...

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Magiko Gaming also added in to this game what they tend to do with all of their games, replay value. They do this is the form of 3 difficulties, awards, and online leaderboards. The only problem with the leaderboards now is that since they are peer to peer the chances of you getting a full leaderboard to compete against is really low.  The awards in the game are very cool because they challenge you to finish the game with less deaths and eventually no deaths on any difficulty. These are a bit ridiculous, but hey, you get an award for it. You also get rewarded for bad things, like dying a certain number of times. These flop awards are pretty funny an lighten the mood after your 1000th death.

The game may be a bit short, seeing as it is only one level, but it is fun all the way through. With the added goodness of awards to shoot for and scores on the leaderboards to overcome, you will easily get your dollar’s worth.

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Ninja War and xblaratings.com


Overview

As I am sure some of you are keenly aware, an indie game called Ninja War STOLEN SCROLLS released over the weekend. The game’s release has spawned some internet bashing of Ninja War because it is a “blatant attempt” to copy a particular game on XBLA where you engage in the act of Crashing Castles. I personally am in the “What is all the complaining about” camp. There is a difference between blatant copying and imitation. In particular, the argument is going on over at xblaratings is the center of this issue right now. xblaratings.com a site where anyone can post a review of a game and give as little or as much explanation as they want. I think xblaratings would work a lot better if people weren’t so attached to their favorite games and would actively write reviews with reasoning behind their score. People do not seem to realize that just because they disliked a game demo, they should not give a game a 1 and just say “It suxs”. xblaratings is a great site that I continue to use because it has a very cool idea that I would love to see furthered, but it is way underused. This is kind of a call out to reviewers and gamers alike, support xblaratings. Simple as that, and I will explain how below. Hopefully you enjoy this piece as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

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lets do this!

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Ninja War and The Great Internet Bashing of… Today

I will cover a lot of the mechanics of the game in my review that I will post later. Basically this game is low-budget Castle Crashers. I am able to admit that because it is painfully obvious. From the art style to the map and from the opening cutscene to the backdrops, the game shows Castle Crashers some love. Technically this is not such a bad thing because the game tries to do its own thing, but it could have taken a bit more from Castle Crashers. A few complaints I have about the game are its lackluster control scheme and failure to take advantage of some things. There is no customization whatsoever of your character. No weapons to buy, gold to collect, stats that you can actively raise, etc. It is Castle Crashers combat with a heavy focus on magic. The game is firmly rooted in the mentality that magic is what you want to use. I did enjoy using it, but more combos would also be better. There was the really cool addition of showing the last enemy you attacked health bar. I really hate complaining about the game when I had a ton of fun with it, but it saddens me that this game had so much room for improvement.

Ninja War may be heavily influenced by Castle Crashers, but to compare them to each other is kind of unfair. First of all Castle Crashers cost 15 times are much as Ninja Scrolls and was made by a bigger developer. It is also one the most downloaded and top rated games on XBLA. Ninja War is a $1 indie game people, don’t expect Castle Crashers 2.  To summarize, Ninja War could have been an amazing game instead of a good game, but to call it out for not being Castle Crashers is just insulting to the developers of both games.

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Art Style

     

These settings are very similar….

     

as are these…..

That is enough of that. Ninja War is a love song to Castle…

     

I said that is enough!!! Jeez. Any way it would be dumb of me to say Ninja War is completely original in every aspect, but it does not copy Castle Crashers, it just imitates it in a handful of categories. Castle Crashers was a one of a kind experience, especially with friends, and I am surprised this is the first attempt to imitate it. Ninja War does a few things well with most of the game being average, but Castle Crashers fans will feel right at home.

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xblaratings.com and how to support them

As you can see by the discussion linked above, people are giving Ninja War mixed reviews with very little reasoning behind any of the reviews. Games usually do not get 4 reviews this quickly on the site, so it piqued my interest when it happened. I plan to add my review to the site later on tonight to make the number of reviews 5. The most recent review I will kind of ignore because it is not uncommon for people to give a game a 1 because they find a glitch and are mad. I will try not insult them, but we have all encountered and surpassed glitches before, giving a game a 1 is not the appropriate way to handle this. So if you decide to support xblaratings like I do, don’t do that.

The main reason xblaratings rating system is so volatile is because of the lack of reviews. When a game is lucky to get 1 review over its lifetime, the rating system is not exactly balanced. My challenge to you, as a game reviewer or as an indie game fan, is that once you play an indie game, rate it on xblaratings. It is not that hard, you do not even have to make an account on the site. The one thing I will challenge you to do is to explain your reasoning a bit. If you happen to have your own review site, post a mini review on xblaratings and then have the url of your site with the full review listed in the xblaratings review. This does two things: 1) More ratings means a little more balanced scoring system, so games will be “properly” rated. 2) Gets more views for your site.

—psssttt. do it—

I am going to make a habit of putting a mini review up on xblaratings for every review I put up on my site. You do not need to copy and paste the whole thing, just a paragraph of summary and a link to the full review on your site will do. To those of you who do not like to give number scores this is a bit of a pickle. You have to rate a game in order to post your review. In this situation you can just give the game around the average score and list in your review that the score doesn’t mean anything.

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Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below.

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