This isn’t going to be a typical review. I think anyone who’s played Game Type is already aware of the joke and that there really isn’t much “game” to be had here. Game Type is a parody of the new X360 dashboard with a quick shooter thrown in. Even Nathan Fouts admits he just threw the title together. So why is it an important piece you should know about even if you don’t play it?
Game Type has caused quite a stir among gamers and critics. There are those lauding Nathan’s satire who feel Microsoft should be parodied due to the way they’ve seemingly buried XBLIG. Others feel XBLIG developers are acting immaturely, as XBLIG is a solid opportunity for inexperienced developers to make a name for themselves inexpensively, offering them a chance to succeed or fail on their own merits (unlike say, a more rigorous vetting process employed by Steam).
The arguments tend to flow this way: The new X360 dashboard does now make it far more difficult to find indie titles at all, let alone specific games. That being said, the new interface DOES place “Featured” indie titles in a more prominent location, right alongside their pricier XBLA cousins. I’ll admit I don’t know the criteria for selecting “Featured” titles, and hopefully readers can fill us in with the specifics. Unfortunately, the much touted Bing Search features do not seem (at least to me) robust enough to allow gamers to quickly or easily find certain developers’ titles. For instance, I tried to locate Eyehook Games’ “Cursed Loot” recently, and it took a fair amount of effort on my part. Again, it may just be a lack of familiarity with the interface- but if I had trouble locating a game when I already knew the title and the developer, how can anyone rightly expect gamers to find these games? Part of the thrill of XBLIG is kind of like wandering a bookstore- There’s always the chance of finding something new, or discovering a hidden gem. Yes, there are a lot of, shall we say, “lesser quality” works there, but for every Avatar Massage Parlor with Still Frames of Hot Girls, there’s an Explosionade, Cursed Loot, or Hypership Out of Control just waiting.
Microsoft’s defenders say that advertising should be up to the individual developer, and not up to the company. That seems to be a fair statement, but I would argue this way: The purpose of XBLIG is to give new developers a voice. Many of these new developers simply do not have the capital to mount large advertising campaigns. While I agree MS isn’t responsible for advertising, I would think they would want to encourage the developers a little bit more. Granted, XBLIG is not a major source of income for MS by any stretch. However, from a PR perspective, it would make sense to me for them to crow about it more than they do- It’s certainly great ammo in the war against Sony. If this is the “Era of the Indie,” why wouldn’t Microsoft make a point of touting their “farm system?” Sony doesn’t really have anything comparable, and there are some GREAT games to be had.
Back to Game Type, though. I found it to be funny- In this day of “Occupy Wall Street” and “Arab Spring,” where true protesters are shaping world events, I find it refreshing that Nathan chose satire as a way to express displeasure with a less than ideal situation. In the grand scheme of things, the X360 dashboard problem is minor. I think it shows more maturity to take a playful swing at the issue via humor than by writing some diatribe on a website. Besides, if you’ve met Nathan, you KNOW this is his sense of humor, and tongue is firmly in cheek when he parodies the ads, ESPN, cat games (No Luca, No), etc. I even like the idea that all the work to find “Game Type” leads to a less than stellar “game” with Green Hoodie using the power of parkour (is there anything it CAN’T do?) to blow up cats and football players- To me, it represents the Indie Channel itself: Difficult to find, and harder still to separate the wheat from the chaff. love that Nathan includes ads for other high quality games in Game Type. He makes a statement AND supports other indies in one go. Good stuff.
Is Game Type worth the 80 points? That depends on why you’re spending them. If you’re looking for an engaging title from a fun perspective, no. If however, you get the joke and want to support the Indie revolution- absolutely. Game Type is an important title, but not for obvious reasons.