Minus the Pudding: The Best of Xbox Live Indie Games

A round-up of the very few Xbox Live Indie Games that aren't soduku, including Don't Be Nervous Talking to Girls, Kissy Poo, and more.

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In an early episode of South Park, fat-boy Eric Cartman talks about how independent movies are “always about gay cowboys eating pudding.” The same can (almost) be said for Xbox Live’s Independent Games service—a service that allows anyone, anyone at all, to develop and publish their own Xbox 360 game.  In “Minus the Pudding,” I plan to highlight the very best of what Xbox Live Indie Games has to offer, though, by “very best,” I actually just mean “the games that aren’t soduku, fireplace simulators, or massagers for your private parts.” Those are the pudding games of Indie Games, and I want to talk about the ones that aren’t.

Dear Readers,

Hello, and welcome to GameCola.net: the number one website on the entire Inter–HEY, wait a second.

I’m sorry about that. Old habits die hard, as they say. “Dear Readers” was the column I wrote as a sort of introduction to every issue of GameCola back when we published in a monthly newsletter format. I guess it’s been so long since I’ve written anything else that I’ve apparently forgotten how to do it. (Actually, that makes some sense, and it would explain why a recent personnel report I wrote for work talked about how a job candidate had “terrible replay value.”)

Let’s try this again.

Hello, and welcome to “Minus the Pudding”: the column about how we have a great issue lined up for you this month, folks! Zach Rich wrote a review for an N64 Rareware game, Meteo Xavier wrote about a fantasy version of himself, and Michael Gray wrote everything else. It’s easily one of the best–dammit! I’m really sorry about this. I swear, this has never happened to me before. Give me one more chance, OK?

Dear Rea–OK, you know what? This is just a bad idea. Let’s just forget this whole “introduction” thing, and move on to the part where I tell you about the four Xbox Live Indie Games that were released last month that are actually worth the dollar that they cost.

Coverart for Don't Be Nervous Talking to Girls

Maybe this was a bad game to start with.

For all you boys out there who want the girl of your dreams to think you’re an asshole, there’s Don’t Be Nervous Talking to Girls—the latest game by the developers of Don’t Be Rude Talking to Cops and Don’t Be Sexy Talking to Pedophiles. This is a game where you advance by—and this is taken directly from Don’t Be’s main menu—telling a girl what she wants to hear. The game makes anachronistic use of FMV; a real-life hottie hot hot girl says something to you, and you have to select, from two options, what you want to say back. Sometimes she’ll ask you a random trivia question, such as “How many beats does a human heart beat in one day?” and if you don’t answer correctly, then she don’t wanna be your lover. Whatever happened to “you gotta get with my friends” as the basis for a relationship?

A screenshot of Don't Be Nervous Talking to Girls

My favorite part of the game was when she told me she was having trouble with a math problem. I offered to help, and she pushed me away like she was Quest 64, and I was good gameplay. So, instead, I went back and bragged to her about how godly I am at math; then she got slightly aroused and asked for my help.

Nice guys—or, I should say, guys without dates—always talk about how girls only really ever go for jerks. Is Don’t Be Nervous Talking to Girls conclusive evidence that this is true?

Also—and forgive me for not finding a more natural way to work this in—but since this is kind of an edutainment title, and since it’s clearly meant for high schoolers…does that make it eduteenment? Thank you.

Epiphany in Spaaace! coverart

This is a Choose Your Own Adventure book in cheaply-made videogame form. It’s entirely text-based, and after every few screens of text, you’re given a chance to choose which way you want the story to go. The plot is a jokey science-fiction story about a kid who’s just about to graduate space school and captain his own starship. If sci-fi’s not your thing, the guy who made this game also made one about a young girl and the way she deals with death. It’s called  Molly the Were-Zompire.

Now, this is the part of my column where I should say something like “there’s no reason to get this game when you can just get the same thing in a book, for much cheaper.” That’s usually what reviewers say when they’re reviewing things like Where’s Waldo? videogames, or those “hidden object” games that are exactly the same thing as an I-Spy book. I’m not going to say that, though, for two reasons:

1) It’s easier to just buy this game over Xbox Live than it is to find and purchase a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and

2) At a total cost of $1, this videogame is actually cheaper than almost every book ever made. Even Everyone Poops.

Ephiphany in Spaaace! screenshot

So, hey! If you like Choose Your Own Adventure books, check this game out. Videogames: What’s the Point of Books Anymore?

Gerbil Physics coverart

In this game that I think was made for children, you have to blow up buildings that are made out of gerbils. You’re given a set number of bombs (and, later, ropes), and you have to knock all the gerbils over using only these objects and your wits. If you’re unsuccessful, the words “abject failure” crash down onto the screen, representative of the self-esteem you can feel crashing down in your own head when you realize that this is how you’re spending your Friday night.

I particularly liked the looks of fear on the gerbils’ faces, and the scared little noises they made, as I placed bombs  right next to their heads.

Kissy Poo coverart

In this game, you have to—again, this is a direct quote from the game’s main menu—“help Kissy Poo fill the rainbow and enjoy a fun, dancy time with all the animal friends.” It may just be the greatest game I have ever played in my entire life. Take a look:

Do a little dance. Because it’s dancin’ time. Do a little dance. Because it’s dancin’ time. I know you’ve already started, but don’t bother looking for an mp3 of this, the finest song ever written. I’ve already searched the entire Internet, and it doesn’t exist.

If you don’t give this man a dollar in exchange for this game, you are doing a disservice to videogames.

OK, that’s about all I have for you now. I also recently played an Indie Game called Johnny Platform Saves Christmas!, but since the extent of the holiday joy in this game was a little snow and a Santa hat on the main character, I am now fighting with this game, and don’t really want to talk about it.

Ah well. Enjoy the newest issue of GameCola, everyone!


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From 2002 to 2013

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