Friday, December 21, 2012

The Friday Review: Mark of the Ninja (XBLA, PC)

Mark of the Ninja
-review by CJ

Ever wanted to play a good ninja game? I don't mean a game that's good and has "ninja" in the title, but a game that actually tries to create atmosphere and gameplay that would be considered ninja-esque? A game where stealth is your greatest asset, combat is swift and brutal, and enemies are either oblivious to your presence as you pass them by in the shadows, or grow more fearful of you the more of your handiwork they find while you remain unseen? Well now you can, because Mark of the Ninja is just such a game.

After playing Mark of the Ninja for just a few minutes I knew I was going to love it. A 2D action platformer barely begins to describes this game. Although stealth is the name of the game in almost every situation, Mark of the Ninja supports any mixture of 3 distinct play styles: Stealth, Combat, Terror.

STEALTH: If you want to pass by your enemies unnoticed and unmolested, you can. It is possible to complete every mission without killing a soul. There's even an outfit you can unlock that doesn't allow you to carry a sword, but silences all movement completely to facilitate this method. Distraction items can be used to divert enemies and guards carrying important items can be pick-pocketed instead of assassinated.

COMBAT: If you want to be able to go toe-to-toe with your gun-wielding adversaries, you'd better be prepared. Stealth will still be the quickest and easiest way to dispose of guards, but if you gear up for combat you won't have to run and hide if you are discovered. Another suite of armor is made specifically for this play style, granting extra health, combat prowess, and health regeneration from silent kills.

TERROR: As Batman could tell you, fear is as great a weapon as anything made of steel. Enemies that find the bodies of their fallen comrades will become suspicious, and cautious, but their fear will also start to grow. As your ninja skills improve you can unlock more gruesome ways to kill guards, which will horrify their fellow guards enough that they will shoot at anything that moves, even each other. Once again, there is an outfit that increases the success of this play style.


-Flexible play styles. Mark of the Ninja has so much to offer in styles of playwith so many different traps, accessories, and outfits that accommodate different play styles (more than the 3 mentioned above)there should be something here for everyone.

-Replayability. I found myself replaying many levels (which you can easily switch between), to try different play styles, find all the hidden items, or just for fun as often as any other reason. There is even a New Game + mode that allows you to restart on a much harder difficulty with all of the skills and items you unlocked in the previous game.

-Intriguing Story. Although on the surface the story seems to be a simple one of revenge, it takes some interesting twists that are never fully explained or understood until the final level where the player decides between endings. It's easy to simply replay this last level to see the other ending, which is another plus in my book.

-Polished. From the tight controls to the incredible visuals, or the simple fact that I never experienced a single bug, this game shines.


-New Game + difficulty. Although I appreciate the addition of a new game + mode, and added difficulty, I didn't like one of the features of this mode: hampered visibility. This made the NG+ a bit too difficult in my opinion, and I didn't play it for very long before I gave up. Luckily I can still enjoy the original mode, so this is a fairly minor quibble, and others may enjoy the extreme difficulty.

-Some of the later levels lack the fun of the earlier levels. Specifically the levels that take place in a desert town. These seem to lack the ingenuity and creativity of the earlier levels, and some areas of these maps were nearly impossible to get by while I was doing a "No Kills" run through, requiring numerous retries. I eventually found myself just running through them to finish quickly, rather than taking my time enjoying them.

SUMMARY: Mark of the Ninja is the first game I've ever played where I really felt like a ninja. Lurking in the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to strike has never felt so good, or been so rewarding. Watching enemies succumb to fear rather than running around blathering about how they're going to find you was refreshing. I highly recommend this title to anyone who ever wanted to play a good ninja game.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Friday Review: Skullgirls (XBLA, PSN)

review by Cyndi

The characters are what first drew me to this 2D fighting game. I was tired of the typical sword and staff-wielders that come from most fighting games, and this one came with a zombie cat that used her head to fight, and another girl who used her parasitic hair to attack. I was immediately intrigued.

The artwork of this game is beautiful. The characters are incredibly fun to play with, and you have never seen these kinds of fighting characters before. The premise of this game is to try and obtain a magic skull that is supposed to grant wishes. Players fight through a variety of characters in order to reach their goal including girls wielding parasols, or, my favorite, a girl who attacks with her hair. Every character in this game is a scantily clad female, so if you're looking for a nice clean game with little blood and minor skin showage, this is not that game.

My only disappointment with this game is the balance. I started on the lowest difficulty and jumped immediately into a story mode. Unfortunately this was quite a mistake as the "Easy" mode on this game is the "Hell" mode on any other fighting game. I'm not the most intense gamer out there, but I consider myself a pretty decent video game player. I was stuck on the first battle for hours on "Easy" mode.

Eventually I just had to give up and go spend some quality time in the tutorial room, which, unfortunately, wasn't really very helpful and was in no way interesting. Maybe it's just me, but I don't find a lot of joy in getting check-marks on a never-ending list of menial tasks such as jumping or blocking over and over and over again. Despite how dull the tutorials, it was still necessary to spend a lot of time in here just to get through one single fight in story mode. And that's just the first battle; it gets progressively harder as the story continues.

So, if you are interested in purchasing this game be prepared to put in many, many hours at the tutorial room, and also be prepared to get really frustrated in "Easy" mode.


  • The characters are incredibly unique and fun to play with. The attacks are in no way typical and it’s fun to see what each character can do.
  • The artwork. The artwork of this game is simple, yet stunning with a playful comic feel about it.


  • The difficulty level. The difficulty level seriously needed to be dropped a notch. If you are a hard-core fight-style gamer, don’t be shocked if you get your butt kicked in easy mode. If you are a newcomer to the fighting genre, you may want to start with a different game.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Friday Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (XBLA, PC)

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
review by Tesh

In a nutshell? "Twin Stick Metroidvania".

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet places you in control of a plucky little UFO with a variety of tools and weapons, and tasks you with saving your home planet from star-eating shadow play monsters. You drive with one analog stick, and aim your weapon/tool with the other, pitting your toolset against a massive alien invasion.

The Good:
  • Classic "Metroidvania" game design involving exploring a large map that opens up as you take tools and weapons from boss monsters and use them to interact with the world. You grow in power and utility as you learn to interact with and explore the world. This is really the heart of the game, and there are enough different tools, ways to use them and things to use them on to carry the gameplay through several hours of fun experimentation and exploration.
  • Instruction comes via icons and demonstration, which cuts down on mistranslations and keeps the learning curve fairly simple.
  • The visuals are a curious mix of flat shapes and color gradients, simple and clean. The art design and animation are excellent, and help to sell the alien nature of the game. This ethos is vaguely reminiscent of World of Goo, another game standing as a testament to the strength of good 2D art presentation.
The Middling:
  • Boss Monster hunting strategies tend to be more about execution than deciphering the gimmick. This is usually good, but sometimes it would be nice if it were the other way around.
The Not So Good:
  • Steering missiles can be tricky and frustrating...but that can also mean that it's satisfying if you get the hang of it.
  • The simplified instructions aren't always clear, and it will take some tinkering to figure some things out. This isn't always bad, but it can be frustrating if you get stuck.
  • The underwater area requires a bit too much retracing of your path as currents push you around and block off channels. Choosing a different fork in the road means looping back to the start of the path instead of just backing up to the fork.
  • Some boss fights are a bit demanding or unclear, but some players like this as a skill test.
  • No difficulty settings.

All in all, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a fun game, well worth spending some time with.


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Curse of the Zombiesaurus Trailer!

Keflings Zombiesaurus DLC Roars onto XBLA this Wednesday

DLC gets release date, price and new trailer

OREM, Utah – October  15, 2012 – A World of Keflings, the avatar-based Xbox Live Arcade city building sim, is set to get its second DLC pack in as many weeks when “The Curse of the Zombiesaurus” releases this Wednesday Oct. 17 for 320 Microsoft Points.

The Zombiesaurus DLC comes stalking on the heels of last week’s “Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice” DLC, which added a new, candy-themed kingdom wherein players can explore and build a sugary city for their Keflings. Conversly, Zombiesaurus delivers a new land to the Kefling world that sits in stark contrast to the brightly colored candy peak: an eerie yet amusing graveyard town chockfull of bizarre monster-Kefling residents and plagued by the rampaging Zombiesaurus.

Yet despite the ghoulish setting players will find themselves wrapped up in the familiar Keflings humor and light-hearted gameplay that have become the signatures of the Keflings games.

Earlier this year NinjaBee, the studio behind A World of Keflings, held a contest allowing fans to vote to choose between three themes (Candy, Graveyard and Pirate) for what would be the next DLC pack the studio created. “The Curse of the Zombiesaurus” came from the second-place theme and was only made because of a fortunate accident.

“Actually, the Zombiesaurus DLC only happened because we took a gamble and lost,” said Brent Fox, Art Director at NinjaBee. “Arranging the contest took a lot longer than we originally planned. We had a team ready to start working right away, so we surveyed our employees to see which they thought would win. Graveyard won in a landslide, so we bet that that’s how the fans would vote and just started working on it. When the contest finally happened Candy won instead of Graveyard so we had to stop all development and switch. Best mistake we made this year.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice Now Available!

Good news everyone! Remember that contest we held oh so many months ago, where you voted which would be the next kingdom we added as DLC to A World of Keflings? Well, you chose, we made it and now, IT's HERE!

Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice, also known as the Candy Kingdom DLC for A World of Keflings released today on Xbox Live Arcade!

So what are you waiting for? There's a cotton candy forest to harvest, gingerbread Kefling houses to build, a bakery to run, an evil wizard to thwart, an amnesia-fied unicorn to un-amnesiate, a gaggle of gingerbread Keflings to build a city for and so, so much more!

You can download it now! Click on the link below to go to the Xbox Live marketplace and add Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice to your Xbox's download queue now!

Download Now - Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Trick AND Treat with the Keflings this October!

Graveyard DLC Announced, Candy DLC Gets Date and Price

Keflings fans will get the chance to Trick and Treat this month thanks to two new kingdoms, graveyard and candy, coming as DLC to A World of Keflings on Xbox Live Arcade. Both DLC packs will arrive in time for Halloween with ‘Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice’ (the candy DLC) releasing Wednesday Oct. 10 for 320 Microsoft Points.

A short zombie teaser appeared at the end of a trailer released last week for ‘Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice,’ hinting that something macabre was brewing for the Keflings, but no further clarification was offered. Today NinjaBee confirmed that a new, graveyard-themed kingdom will lurk its way onto the Xbox Live Marketplace as DLC titled ‘The Curse of the Zombiesaurus.’

In ‘The Curse of The Zombiesaurus’ gamers will play as their avatar and put a horde of zombie Keflings known as ‘Spooklings’ to work gathering bones out of graves, brimstone from volcanoes and ectoplasm off of ghosts. They’ll meet a new cast of ghoulish Keflings including Wilhelm the grave keeper and Count Kefula who need their help in rebuilding their eerily amusing graveyard town, which was recently decimated by the raging Zombiesaurus.

Both ‘Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice’ and ‘The Curse of the Zombiesaurus’ include new achievements for players and new unlockable in-game emotes for their avatars.

Those who don’t own A World of Keflings can pick up a copy next week at half price (400 MS Points) when it goes on sale as Xbox Live’s Deal of the Week beginning Tuesday Oct. 9.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice Trailer!

Take your first scrumptious look at Candy Peak, the newest kingdom in the Kefling world - coming oh so soon to A World of Keflings on Xbox Live Arcade! Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice... in a land where everything is made of candy, not everything will be sugary sweet!

Announcement to come shortly! What are you most excited about? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice Trailer Coming Friday!

Feeling hungry for some A World of Keflings Candy Kingdom DLC? Then check back this Friday to get a first in-depth look at the new Kingdom, characters and gameplay in the new trailer for 'Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice'. There might be a few surprises. Trust us, it'll be worth your while... *hint, hint.*

Friday, August 10, 2012

Avatar FameStar Update Gives New Content to A World of Keflings for a Full Year

 Aug. 10, 2012 – The Kefling world just got a lot bigger thanks to a free update that released earlier today, adding support for Microsoft Studios’ Avatar FameStar program to A World of Keflings. The program, which offers players the chance to earn Fame and other rewards by completing in-game challenges, adds a substantial amount of new content to the game including a full year’s-worth of free weekly quests, a new kingdom to build in and more.

The new kingdom features sandbox-style gameplay reminiscent of the first Keflings game, A Kingdom for Keflings. Once in the new kingdom players will discover they can now build Kefling-sized ships that will sail the many seas and waterways scattered across the new map. They will also encounter the Rockstar Kefling, a new quest-giving Kefling who will set them to each weekly challenge. Completing these challenges gives players the chance to earn Fame that will help them level-up in the Avatar FameStar program and earn cool rewards like Avatar FameStar costumes. Each completed weekly quest also unlocks a blueprint for one of the more than 50 unique ships players can build for their Kefling fleet.

But completing weekly quests is just one way players can earn Fame in A World of Keflings. Today’s update adds a slew of challenges, similar to Achievements, that players can tackle to earn Fame. Some challenges must be completed while playing the main campaign, while many others are achievable while playing in any of the game’s kingdoms, including the new Rockstar Weekly Challenge kingdom, the alien kingdom from the It Came From Outer Space DLC and the candy kingdom from the soon-to-be-released Sugar, Spice and Not So Nice DLC.

Today's update also includes a fix that allows players to see their avatar props in-game! To see their prop appear in the Kefling world players must ensure there is sufficient empty space surrounding their avatar for the prop's animation to perform and then either select the newly added prop emote (found in the center of the emote menu) or wait until their avatar goes idle. Either action will trigger the prop animation to play.

Another fix includes unlocking a unique Twisted Pixel emote for players who own and have earned an achievement in Comic Jumper.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th!? It's your lucky day!

This weekend we're giving away our iOS space station sim game, Kaloki Adventure, for FREE!

The sale starts today and ends late Sunday night, so get it while you can! Download your copy here:

Race against time to create thriving space station in Kaloki Adventure, a humorous space station tycoon game! See if you have what it takes to solve challenges, manage your station's resources, entertain visiting aliens, and keep your customers happy - all while trying to rake in some serious cash.

Kaloki Adventure is the iOS version of our XBLA sim/tycoon game, Outpost Kaloki X. The game was redesigned in 2009, integrating native touch controls for the iPhone.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Play A World of Keflings With Us Tonight!

Tonight at 5 p.m. PDT a bunch of us devs from NinjaBee are logging on to Xbox Live to play A World of Keflings for a special 'Game With The Devs' edition of PlayXBLA Monday!

We're going to be talking Candy for Keflings and answering any question you can think of about the new DLC. We'll also let you be the first to hear some teasers about what Keflings has going on AFTER a Candy for Keflings comes out. It's some good stuff, so don't miss it!

The event is only an hour long, so don't be late! We'll be hosting games as well as jumping into as many Live Multiplayer games as we can. So don't be late! To avoid confusing people, we'll be playing in the main game's campaign, not in the It Came from Outer Space add-on.

Here's a list of our gamertags to keep an eye out for:

Gamertag Name Job
WWTimeyWimey Andrew Marketing
T G Welfman Eric Programmer
OminousMike Mike Designer
TAR like FISHY Tara Designer
PlumPants05 Casey Artist
NinjaBeeArt Brent Art Director
DreamBean Steve Designer
Smorgasbot Jared Designer
NinjaBee Wahoo Matt Office Manager

In the mean time, hopefully these screenshots can tide you over until tonight. See you then!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Fan Art

After seeing the concept art below, a 3D artists named Milivoj Popovic
contacted us and asked if he could take our concept to 3D.

Here is what he did. It's pretty cool looking. 

You can see more of his art here:

He may even put up a tutorial describing how he did it.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Game in a Day Follow-up: Drawrmy Updated

The game in a day event is done, but we're still making improvements. Drawrmy got an update! The new version includes a working gallery, a working hidden enemy feature, better AI, and  improved visuals and effects. Music was disabled (feedback was it got old fast). We'll keep you posted on future updates! Have fun with the game! Please share with your friends!

Drawrmy (Original Game in a Day version) -

(Download to play)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Mission Accomplished! 2 Games in 11 hours!

The games are complete! Both Drawrmy and Curse of the Space Mummy are done - 14 people, 12 hours, 2 games. Give 'em a spin, tell us what you think!

(Download to play)
This game can be played with either a controller, keyboard and mouse, or just keyboard. If your ship gets destroyed look for the green smoke to see the enemy you are possessing (re-spawning).

(Play in-browser)
Draw your units to create your drawrmy. The colors you choose affect your attack and defense stats (think Rock, Paper, Scissors). Red is strong against blue, blue is strong against yellow, yellow is strong against red. Keep this in mind when creating your characters and when choosing which units to attack.

Let us know what you think! We can only do so much in such limited time, but if people like the games we might just keep working on them :)

(PS - XBLA Code winners are Skylar Wolf, Andrew (posted 5:25 p.m. on Friday), Mark Litzinger and Chun Lau. If you haven't been contacted send an email to with your contact info and we'll pass you your code. Congrats!)

Game in a Day - Game Descriptions

Time to introduce you to the games with a short overview - let's start with Drawrmy (yep, Draw + Army, pronounced dr-army).

Maybe one way to describe this game would be to say it's like Stratego meets Pictionary meets Rock Paper Scissors. It's a army creation and battle game where the player first creates their own units and pits them against enemy forces in turn-based battles. The colors you draw with are strong and weak against other colors. For example, red beats blue, blue beats yellow, yellow beats red. The catch though, is that you can't see the enemy's forces. So be careful because attacking reveals your strengths, and weaknesses, to your opponent.

Now, for Curse of the Space Mummy. A game where the player takes control of an ancient curse as it possess enemy ships, exacting vengeance on those who disturbed its tomb. But a curse can't die. If your host ship is destroyed the curse possesses the enemy ship that destroyed it. The game uses a classic, dual-stick scheme.

Both games are for PC and you'll be able to play them for free if we can finish in time!

Here are some pics of the team - working like crazy to get these done.

Game in a Day - And the game will be...

Last night we got together, pitched our game ideas to the team and voted on which game to make. We started with 10 awesome game ideas with everything ranging from puzzle alchemy games to zombie napoleon platformers. But in the end the voting came in and we picked...


We're going to be ambitious. Team got split into two games. And they are...



Curse of the Space Mummy

More details about the games are coming as the day moves on, but the teams are ramped up and working feverishly to get the games up and running. Images, video and game details to follow.

Post questions in the comments section and we'll try to provide info in upcoming blogs. Keep checking back, we're trying to post every hour, so stay tuned! (Don't forget, commenting on posts today gets you a chance to win XBLA codes)

Friday, May 04, 2012

NinjaBee Game in a Day!

We want you to come to our game in a day event tomorrow! Well, not really. What we mean to say is we want you to virtually come to our game in a day event.

Tomorrow, Saturday May 5, a bunch of the devs at our studio are getting together to try to make an entire game in just one day... and then release it!

We're going to be doing hourly updates throughout the day so you can follow our progress as we go. Keep checking back here on the NinjaBee blog and follow us on twitter @NinjaBeeGames to get more real-time updates.

Obviously, if we don't finish in a day we can't release it, so make sure you're here to cheer us on! We may just give out an XBLA code or two randomly to people who comment and any of tomorrow's (or this) blog posts. *wink*wink

We're choosing what the game will be tonight. Any requests?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ninja Lightning Pack!

Usually a ninja strikes in silence from the shadows, but sometimes it uses lightning.
That's right, lightning. is hosting a sale of 5 NinjaBee games on PC: Ancients of Ooga, Cloning Clyde, A Kingdom for Keflings, Outpost Kaloki, and Band of Bugs!

The quicker you jump in and purchase, the cheaper you can get the bundle. Or, if you're feeling generous, pay extra, which knocks down the current price for others. This deal is only going to last for the next 100 hours, so you gotta be quick to catch the lightning!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Friday Review: Serious Sam 3 BFE (PC)

Serious Sam 3: BFE
review by Stevil

Take the story, character development, and tactical cover mechanics in today's shooters and throw them on the ground, you're an adult!
What you have left is a challenging first-person shooter experience in its purest form.

This game is all about the combat. If you are looking for an epic story to go along with the explosions then look elsewhere. While a game that's light on story may cause more elitist gamers to jerk their noses up in disgust so violently they barrel roll off the sofa, I'm fine with minimal story as long as it sufficiently explains character motivations and the context of events. In Serious Sam 3 the story goes something like "Aliens are bad, we need to kill a lot of them."

Frantic battles against truly absurd numbers of bad guys are where this game really shines. Single levels can contain 1000+ enemies and they enjoy attacking suddenly, from more than one direction, and in massive waves. The fact that enemies are pouring in from all directions really keeps you on your toes and encourages a running gun battle through the large and very well designed levels. Enemies come in many shapes and sizes, as well as unique behaviors and inherent weaknesses that can be exploited. While there are some great new monsters, fans of the franchise will recognize many a familiar face among the hordes—such as the nimble and deadly Kleer Skeletons, as well as different varieties of the heavy-weapon toting Biomechanoids.

Each enemy type is best defeated by combinations of different tactics and weapons and you can expect to find many different enemy types in each battle. Battles are dynamic and your already slim chances for survival are maximized when using the right tool for the job, much like a muscle bound Bob Villa spreading intergalactic justice one smoking barrel at a time.

One of the areas Serious Sam 3 really shines is in the large selection of weapons it offers, 13 to be exact. Each weapon plays well, has its own feel, and covers a unique area in which it excels. Earlier I mentioned that using the best weapon for the job is your best bet for making it out alive; however it is still very possible to stick with just the one or two weapons that strike a resonance with your inner Chuck Norris and survive. I had a great time taking on some of the biggest and baddest enemies in the game with my sledgehammer, just to see if I could, and if I played my cards right I usually could. Very challenging but also very satisfying.

Serious Sam 3 runs on Croteam's new Serious engine and on higher settings it does look pretty; although at times I felt like the lighting could get a little weird (too much/little light intensity and some other very minor issues). The environments are detailed and well rendered as are the enemies. Be sure you're hardware is up to the task—those sweet graphics are going to tax your system. There are engines out there that are superior, however I think the Serious engine has potential and look forward to seeing it developed further.

 I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a solid, fast-paced shooter. It delivers in all of the important areas and it delivers on them well. I would also recommend playing with a friend,
CO-OP is an absolute blast. Seriously!

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Friday Review: X-Com: UFO Defense (PC)

X-Com: UFO Defense
-review by CJ

Why am I reviewing an 18 year old game? Because if you haven't played it yet, you should. Considering that it is an 18 year old PC game, there's a very good chance you haven't. Even if you aren't normally a fan of the tactical turn-based strategy RPG horror shooter genre... Oh wait...that's not a genre. It's a game called X-Com: UFO Defense. Mixing a bunch of genres can be risky, like when you throw a bunch of vegetables and stuff into your juicer in hopes of downing your daily dose of "healthy" as quickly as possible, but end up creating a sickly brown liquid that may or may not actually be edible anymore. However, X-Com is more like a well concocted blend of ingredients that you might not think work together, but then when you try it you just can't get enough. Like cinnamon on chocolate ice cream (seriously). Ok, so what is it? X-Com is, at its heart-of-hearts, a turn-based strategy game. You move your men around a map trying to find sneaky aliens and kill them before they kill you. Between combat scenarios you research new tech, expand your base, build new bases to increase your global coverage, and basically wait in fear of the next announcement of "UFO detected". Now let's get right down to what you can expect to find.


-Complex yet simple. There's a lot going on in X-Com, but the game mechanics are simple enough that even without any guiding hand (see CONS), you can figure it out. Even though there's a lot to do, it doesn't feel overwhelming.

-Emotional. It may be just me, but every time I hear an alien shot I tense up. I watch with horror as it hits one of my soldiers, ending their lives forever. Or sigh in relief as it passes them by, a near miss.  The mortality of your soldiers makes you care about them, especially when they've survived three missions, have been promoted to Captain, and are the best shot in your army.

-Mystery. Never knowing what lays beyond the ramp of your dropship at the beginning of each mission makes each battle feel like a new experience. What enemies will I be facing? How many? Where are they? Each map is procedurally generated, and when and where UFO's appear is random as well. Besides that, you never know what's happening just out of range of your base's sensors. As I guard Africa, is Europe being invaded?

-Great environment. The quiet, creepy music, the fog of war, the empty farm houses and fields of wheat, the creak of a door opening when all you can see is a screen that says "Hidden Movement" during the alien's turn...this is what an alien invasion should be like! Few gaming experiences are equal to your first encounter with extra-terrestrial life in X-Com.

-Many, many more! Seriously, it's $5 on Steam ($2.50 at time of writing, yay sales!). Just try it.


-No help. I don't mean in the game, I mean about the game. If you're downloading the game it's not likely to come with a manual (my Steam version didn't). A nice F1 screen that told you what all the different buttons did would be a great start. An explanation about how research and manufacturing work would be awesome. These are things you can figure out on your own, but by the time you do you will probably want to start a new game, so that you can take advantage of all your new found knowledge from the beginning.

-Possibly impossible. After dozens of hours of playing, you may find yourself between a rock and a hard place. Money is running out, and alien forces are becoming increasingly overwhelming. This can happen from just plain laziness, of course, in which case it's your own fault, but even if you are being careful, the randomness of the game can put you in these positions while you remain ignorant, until it's too late to fix. Although this is rare, when it happens it is extremely frustrating.

SUMMARY: X-Com: UFO Defense is a unique game that every gamer should play at least once. I have played it multiple times, and still find myself enjoying it whenever I pick it back up. Although there is a new version coming out later this year (by a studio I trust with such a mission, and that I'm very excited for), I can't imagine it ever fully replacing the original.