Antipole Xbox 360 Review

March 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Features, Reviews, Xbox 360

Publisher – Saturnine Games – Developer – Saturnine Games – Genre –  Platformer/Puzzle – Players – 1 – Age Rating – Violence=2/3, Sex=0/3, Mature Content=0/3 – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

I love the Xbox 360’s Indie Games service, it’s almost like going back to when anyone with the knowledge could make a game and get it published. There’s no getting away from the fact that there is a lot of poor quality releases in the hundreds available, and there’s certainly a saturation of avatar and zombie games, but there’s also creativity and quality to be found. Antipole is one such game.

Antipole forgoes any story set-up, and you’ll have to come up with your own idea as to why the 20’s inspired, red trench coat wearing character is fighting robots and messing with gravity, well if you really must that is. The game is played on a 2D plane and the nameless character wields an energy pistol, and can also do some rather clever things with gravity.

Level backgrounds don't really become any more interesting than the above screen, which is a shame.

You begin the game completely unarmed, but soon enough you have the energy pistol and the gravity manipulation device in your possession. Playing around with said gravity is a joy, although it can only be used for a short time before the character is flipped back onto whatever’s underneath him (hopefully the solid ground). It’s a clever game with some great level design (ugly and boring backgrounds, though) and the kind of quality that I would like to see a lot more of on the service.

Antipole does have the more typical mechanic of jumping, although when combined with gravity manipulation it makes for an interesting game. A bed of spikes can be avoided by running along the ceiling, the weapons of enemies and the environment can be used against them, botched jumps can be rectified, and sometimes the altering of gravity can bring about some new obstacles – toxic waste gushing up towards you is something you’ll want to avoid. It’s certainly worth experimenting before just pushing forward and heading to what could quite easily be your next death.

There are a few well designed bosses in the game, most of which make sensible use of gravity manipulation, but while none require any real thought in order to beat them, there’s still some challenge to be found in some of these encounters.

Certain portions of the game do have their moments of trial and error but, on the whole, Antipole is a game that doesn’t feel too unfair and doesn’t overwhelm with or frustrate with the design of its environmental puzzles. Saying that, there’s a few levels which saw me lose 40 something lives, but fault does come by your own hands as opposed to the game itself, which actually feels fast, fluid and responsive to play. No complaints there.

Stages are short, most of which can be completed within a matter of minutes, but that’s only if you don’t keep making mistakes that result in the untimely demise of your character. Each of the levels actually encourages you to get through them as fast as possible, although I feel this is something that most will attempt to accomplish during repeat plays, when they are more knowledgeable about the level layouts and what can be expected.

I don't know much about the story, but it's obviously something to do with robots.

Other methods of extending the lifespan include a challenge mode, in which you can only unlock challenges by finding the green coins within all levels, barring the boss encounters. Challenges are a nice bonus and makes the 240 Microsoft Points seem all the more worthwhile. Those who enjoy earning achievements will also be happy to learn that Antipole has a collection of its own built into the game. Finally, there’s a tricky hard difficulty level, and with less health it certainly lives up to its name.

Antipole is a superb game, and one that shows that it is possible to make a great Indie Game despite the huge amount of rubbish that can be found on Xbox Live. Saturnine Games haven’t invented the mechanic of gravity manipulation, but they’ve certainly lovingly adopted it and utilised it expertly in this highly recommended game.

9/10

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