Shadow Planet Productions is pleased to bring Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet‘s first Game Add-On, Shadow Hunters, to Xbox LIVE Arcade.Shadow Planet Productions’ partners and creators of ITSP, Michel Gagné (Gagne International) and Joe Olson (Fuelcell Games), are confident that this addition will further enhance the player’s experience and expand upon the narrative of the main campaign, as well as give an opportunity to tackle new challenges alone, or team up with your friends locally or over Xbox LIVE on your quest to eradicate the remnants of the invasive shadow virus.
This new mode begins with a cinematic that picks up exactly where the final scene of the main campaign left off. In a nearby asteroid belt, the Shadow Entity still thrives, and the player must clear these asteroids of the nefarious infection before it begins to spread again.
“Shadow Hunters won’t be more of the same”, said Gagné. “I’m really happy that we were able to further the story, push the art in a new direction, and create a potent gaming experience. We took the best aspects of ITSP while exploring new ideas. As far as I’m concerned, Shadow Hunters may very well be the most exciting part of ITSP.”
“The whole team has really outdone themselves on Shadow Hunters”, says Olson, CEO of Fuelcell Games. “We started with the exploration and puzzle elements from the Campaign and incorporated those with the procedurally generated level and fast paced decision making elements from Lantern Run, then pushed these ideas even further to create a challenging and addictive new game mode in the Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet universe.”
Shadow Hunters is for 1 to 4 players and will be available on Xbox LIVE Arcade on October 12th, 2011, for 400 Microsoft Points.
– Scott Ellison
Our Score: 4 / 5 – Awesome
From the start of the game – you are thrust into a world of chaos. Storytelling in Shadow Planet is kept to a minimum and told in little vignettes with the swelling orchestral music of Dimmu Borgir’s “Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse”. These scenes are somewhat calming despite what you are seeing on-screen. A scourge has struck a nearby planet, and it’s up to you to save it and your Homeworld.
Exploration, scanning, finding weapons and upgrades, backtracking with newly acquired weapons, and fighting large bosses are the name of the game. Those words could describe: Metroid, Castlevania, and more recently – Shadow Complex. While it’s close, it’s not Metroidvania to the purest level. It has it’s own twists to the formula. Instead of being a person on solid ground, you are in a free-floating ship. And obviously while in direct control of your ship at all times, you’re not getting out of it, or jumping from platform to platform. This is, possibly easier than the typical game of the genre.
The dual joystick controls gives you precision and control on a level only seen in Super Meat Boy. If you’ve ever played Geometry Wars, Smash TV, or countless other dual-joystick shooters seen on XBLA or PSN – you’ll be right at home with these controls. Movement doesn’t incur too much momentum, as when you want to stop, you will. Aiming works as you’d expect, able to fire with a simple press of the RT button.
You’re free to explore any area you please, barring any weapons you’ve gained to allow you access. Whether you see it or not, the game is deliberate in how it wants you to go and how. It’s not all bad as it gives you a sense of direction. The entire map is visible from the beginning, but only as you uncover each location will it fill in the details. There are buttons tied to taking focus to your Ship and the Destination if you ever get lost within the map – which proves to be quite helpful if you accidentally press either joystick in a direction.
There are up to 9 weapons at your disposal for progressing through the game. You can map four to the face buttons as hotkeys. There is a bit of animation when swapping between weapons, either through the hotkeys and the wheel interface – so you have to be careful with your timing. It’s worth noting that not all of the weapons are, weapons. Some of them are tools to help your progression. The arm tool is used the most in the game and works pretty well except in tight spaces.
The art, as you can see is rooted in black with a lot of other dark colors around it. Surprisingly, Michel Gagné’s art does not get in the way of the action. Everything is easily visible and manageable to distinguish you from your enemies. Although, I would recommend that you play it later in the day or at night with the lights off – but it only helps to accentuate the atmosphere. The inspiration comes from ‘Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets’ that aired on Nickelodeon television back in 2005. This carries over and looks beautiful. There are definitely parts where you just have to stop controlling the game, and let your eyes take in the beauty of the world around you.
Sound instills loneliness. And each of the 9 weapons has a distinct sound effect. The enemies have eerie and specific sounds that are unique as well. Music, as I mentioned is all done by the metal band, Dimmu Borgir and to great effect. The music itself only appears in the beginning, cutscenes, and end credits – but fits the mood.
Some gripes I have with the game involve mainly the the lack of a mini-map. It would be nice to have a map of the current area to help you keep you going in the right direction. However you’ll frequently press the back button to see where you are and where you are going. The transition time that it takes to do that is minuscule that it won’t really affect anything – but doing it frequently enough will bother you. Additionally, there’s no text to the game other than menu text, but once you are in-game you are on your own to discover how to beat bosses and solve puzzles. The hint system works to a degree, but could have used a bit more polish to get the point across.
A multiplayer mode makes an appearance in this action-platformer, called Lantern Run. It’s a cooperative affair where you have to drag a lantern through randomly generated arenas. Weapons and upgrades must be spread evenly to ensure success. Failing is inevitible due to the looming monster chasing you and your crew. It’s attempt at longevity for the game will do it some favors, but people will move on quickly – it should be played for it’s uniqueness to that of the story.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet tweaks a strongly known formula and makes it’s own with style and grace. If you played last year’s Limbo, you’ll find a lot here to like amongst the Metroidvania style of gameplay and exploration. I urge you to get yourself the trial and after you’re done, you’ll be buying the full version to see what else is in store.
An XBLA code for the game was provided by Fuelcell Games/Gagne Int’l for Review purposes
Microsoft has released the details to this year’s Summer of Arcade, and it looks to be a scorcher with some amazing games. Focusing on some of the smaller, indie developers out there.
Bastion (July 20 – 1200 Microsoft Points)
Take control of a character known as The Kid, who is thrust into a world that has literally collapsed around him. He must now construct a safe haven and build a new world from the remnants of the past. The game features lush and imaginative artwork as well as an innovative reaction system that responds to your actions in real time throughout the adventure.
From Dust (July 27 – 1200 Microsoft Points)
Immerse yourself in a world as exotically beautiful as it is dangerous! Control the destiny of a primitive tribe against the backdrop of a world in constant evolution—a universe where mighty Nature reclaims what is hers, and your mastery of the elements is your people’s only hope of survival …
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (August 3 – 1200 Microsoft Points)
Experience a captivating adventure set in a unique, rich and insanely twisted world, blending exploration, intense shooter action, and puzzle-solving with gorgeous visuals and rich story telling in a Hollywood-quality presentation. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet draws you into an epic journey full of surprises, danger and wonder.
Fruit Ninja Kinect (August 10 – 800 Microsoft Points)
The worldwide gaming phenomenon Fruit Ninja has now arrived for Kinect! Your arms are now blades, and the epic battle against the world’s most delicious produce is just beginning. Fruit Ninja Kinect is an amazing evolution of the slice-em-up genre created by Halfbrick, using next-gen power for the juiciest combat ever. Fruit Ninja Kinect includes all the action you know and love with precision control — along with special features exclusive to Kinect.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War (August 17 – 1200 Microsoft Points)
The Cold War is decided when eighties-era action toys come alive and wage war! Toy Soldiers: Cold War blends intense first person combat with addictive action strategy, whether you’re scrapping solo or jumping into the fray with friends.