Indie-Ana Co-Op: A Look Back

6/7/2011 at 12:47 PM

Protect Me Knight

Developer: Ancient
Genre: Action & Adventure
Available On: XBLIG (local co-op only)
Co-Op Mode: Local (2 - 4 players)
Cost: 240 ($3)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes

From the 8-bit characters and soundtrack, to the intentionally (and amusingly) poor translations of instructions and character bios, Protect Me Knight is a delightful treat for those who long for the old NES days without the same level of frustration to which many of those games lead when played today. Each level, you must protect the princess from all types of foes, ranging from lowly goblins to demons and dragons, by attacking them directly and by using the towers surrounding the princess. These towers initially serve as a defensive mechanism, but after they have been upgraded a couple of times, they turn into catapults that launch boulders at the swarms of foes. As you defeat foes, you’ll earn “love points” that can be used in between levels to increase your character’s attack, defense, magic, and speed stats, so Protect Me Knight also has a few RPG elements tossed into the mix. If you aren’t convinced of this game’s fun already, then let me say that when playing with friends, the game becomes exponentially more satisfying. Simply put, Protect Me Knight is one of the best retro games I’ve played in a while and the inclusion of four player co-op completely throws me back to the days of gathering around an NES with my friends to play Contra, Battletoads, or Gauntlet.

Princess' thoughts moments ago: "The Knights of Love will protect- Oh... there's a dragon..."


Developer: OnlyLuck Interactive
Genre: Action & Adventure
Available On: XBLIG
Co-Op Mode: Local (2 – 4 players)
Price: 240 ($3)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes

Corrupted begins at a lovely wedding between Knight and Princess. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when the evil Hooded Figure shows up, eats the princess, and turns some of the attendees into his minions (that’s you). As a mere minion, your boss tasks you to travel across the land in search of additional princesses, to which you must fight your way, in order to feed them to Hooded Figure so that his powers may grow. The game plays a lot like Castle Crashers, with players hacking and slashing or firing arrows into groups of enemies that pour in from the edges of the screen. Using special “Corruption” powers that can freeze enemies or set them on fire, attacks can be boosted to add that extra little bit of death-dealing that’s needed when surrounded by a bunch of do-gooders. Additionally, each minion has a special power-up bar that fills as you kill foes (and fills faster the more foes you kill without being hit) and allows them to unleash a whirl of blades or a hail of arrows to make quick work of those that stand in your way. All of these abilities are upgradeable and the enhancements to those powers actually introduce some of the better co-op aspects of the game. By working with your partner to develop a good mix of up-close and ranged abilities, you'll be mowing down peasants and feeding your master's dark designs in no time!

These knights don't focus so much on the "protecting," as they do on the "hurting"

The Sugar Killerz

Developer: Fun Hazard
Genre: Action & Adventure
Available On: XBLIG
Co-Op Mode: Local (4 players)
Price: 400 MS Points ($5)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes

The Sugar Killerz puts you in the "boots" of one of four mercenaries, The Mad, The Dumb, The Cool, and The Bad, that are out to destroy all the candy in the land. You have at your disposal a small arsenal of firearms, including a shotgun, a sniper rifle, and dual SMGs (each with a primary and secondary fire), that you can quickly switch between using the 360 controller’s face buttons. As you go through each level, the objective is straightforward and simple: kill all the candy you see. Gameplay-wise, The Sugar Killerz comes off feeling similar to a lot of twin-stick shooters out there. Movement is controlled with the left stick, you aim with the right, and fire your weapon using either the right or left trigger (for primary and secondary fire, respectively). There is the occasional power-up (you can go all John Woo, slow motion style) along the way and co-op gameplay is where this title truly shines. The game is very co-op friendly and definitely is a great “pick-up-and-play for a few levels” kind of game. The sheer mayhem that ensues when the screen fills up with “Horny Pigs” (nope, that’s not a mistake) is something that just has to be experienced with a friend.

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this game over other leading brands

Null Divide

Developer: Apoxxle
Genre: Action & Adventure
Available On: XBLIG
Co-Op Mode: Local (2 players)
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes

From the simple graphical depiction of your ship (in two exciting shades of grey), to the blocky layout of the abandoned base you find yourself exploring, Null Divide invokes the days when game credits rolled with names like "Taro" or "Ban Ban" instead of the actual developer names. It's the kind of thing that brings utter joy to anyone who grew up playing video games on TVs that still used RF switches to connect the console to the screen. Navigation about the space station and firing your gun are handled like many modern twin-stick shooters with the left-stick controlling your movementm, the right-stick controlling your aim (complete with a helpful red line to indicate exactly what direction in which you'll be firing), and the right-trigger firing the gun. As you explore the abandoned space station in your ship, you collect power-ups, keys, and new abilities; which is all very reminiscent of Metroid, right down to the secret areas you can discover by flying through seemingly solid walls. Co-op play in Null Divide is local only, but it's also drop-in/drop-out. When the second player joins, he or she is given a white ship to control that has all of the same abilities that have been unlocked by the first player. Null Divide doesn't do anything new in any of the main areas folks typically look at with games: graphics, gameplay, audio, or innovation. But in the end, that's really the point; it is pure, simple old-school fun through and through.

Who needs 3D?