A Review of the Indie Royale "Back to School Bundle"

Indie Royale is a collection of indie games offered for a low price. That low price goes up the more people purchase it but goes down for others if you donate more than the minimum. If that sounds like a copy of the Humble Bundle’s successful business model, that’s because it is. Sales of this sort typically offer indie games that already have a proven fanbase so the creators don’t have to feel bad about not making much money. The current Indie Royale is at $5.57 USD and has sold 8,219 copies as of this writing. It offers seven games which I will review individually.

Swords & Soldiers

Tower defense game that asked me to buy DLC immediately upon opening it, which I found insulting and greedy. But anyway, what you get is an oversimplified RTS on a one-dimensional plane. Passable. You have lots of options and the art has more character to it than your typical Newgrounds drek. I admit I didn’t play it much compared to other games in this bundle, but it at least seemed competently made.

Lunar Flight

An elaborate 3D remake of Lunar Lander , which I recall once playing on Windows 3.1. This game absolutely festoons you with control panels, elaborate controls, and multiple views of your spacecraft. It’s like if Descent had realistic gravity. You want an incredibly complex and scientifically accurate game about moving around in space? Here you go. Control your thrust from several directions, tweak your pitch and yaw, keep an eye on dozens of meters at once, and cry onto your Steve Jobs hagiographies and/or Bat’leth letter openers while imagining a world where the general public still cares about space exploration. I didn’t enjoy playing Lunar Flight but I’m glad the option to play games like it exists. Too bad it’s confusing, has horrible loading times, and crashed 80% of the time I tried to play it.

Bunny Must Die!

There was no way I was playing this game without getting a screenshot of the cat boss.

Any game that wants to be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is cool with me. Skip over the ridiculous plot about an annoying anime child who is a cat and a rabbit at the same time and fights people for some reason and you have a decent Metroidvania. You get several weapons to choose from (and you even collect them by smashing candlesticks) and face simplistic enemies and basic switch puzzles. You also have a parry ability similar to Street Fighter III . The levels are rather easy and mostly straightforward; you can take many hits and have a time-freezing/reversing ability lifted from Braid The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Blinx: The TimeSweeper , and there are too many save points, so it’s hard to die if you’re the least bit careful. There are some challenging bosses to make up for the overly tame corridor levels, though, which is a jarring contrast to the paths leading up to them. The first boss you attack is like a baby’s first bullet hell with all the crap she throws at you, requiring much more skill than the game had previously led me to believe. If the whole game was that hard, I’d like Bunny Must Die! a lot more, and it’s still pretty good as it is. The music is pretty decent, too.

Sequence

Dance Dance Revolution with many clichéd RPG elements mixed in. Similar to Battle Slots by Phantom EFX, this game takes two seemingly disparate ideas and mashes them together in a somewhat pleasing manner. Imagine a standard JRPG battle, except your enemy’s attacks come in the form of arrow patterns for you to navigate using your keyboard, but at the same time you have to flip to another screen and attack using a different configuration of arrows, and on a third screen you have to pretend-dance to build mana for spells. It’s not a bad idea at all. Not up my alley, but fans of both rhythm games and JRPGs and grinding will be in hog heaven. The plot and writing are also a bit better than the usual video game fare and there’s halfway-tolerable music from internet superstar Ronald Jenkees.

Flying Red Barrel

OK shmup from Rockin’ Android, the same creators as Bunny Must Die! . I’m a relatively unskilled shmup player so I didn’t get far, but the fundamentals were adequate to my estimation. There are no gimmicks that I can tell; just your skill in moving and dodging versus hordes of rather bland enemies. There are extra-hard difficulties for true shmup superstars; they know their target audience quite well. You are also mercifully given the option to skip the pointless animu dialogue and get back to pew pewing your way through generic World War I airplanes and steampunk airships. Uguu~~~~~~

Qlione

Imagine a non-moronic version of Flow that actually takes some amount of skill to play and involves placing the player’s avatar in danger. In Qlione you control a vector microorganism thing and use it to drop timed bombs to intercept your enemies. The challenge comes from your tiny workspace, the long delay on the bombs, and the different patterns of the enemies facing you. Qlione requires both memorization and reflexes, just like any good arcade game. There are even bosses with gigantic health bars that take quite a lot of pattern recognition to overcome. You start with a whopping 20 lives, so a reasonably dedicated player could beat it before long. It’s fun while it lasts. Also by Rockin’ Android.

Cute Things Dying Violently

One part Lemmings , two parts Bust-a-Move . Cute Things Dying Violently ’s apparent draw comes both from the brain-wracking puzzles and the childish pleasure of having a cute little puffball call you an asshole. Throw the ungrateful spherical critters around with precision to activate switches, open paths, and… splash crude oil around so you can set more things on fire? There are even bosses, all of which are the same badly-animated robot that chants internet catchphrases at you while you have to figure out how to take it out. CTDV has a “wacky monkey cheese random violence” schtick to it, but there’s an addictive and engaging puzzle game underneath it. Definitely my favorite game of the Back to School Bundle.

———-

There’s one day left to buy the Back to School Bundle. Even if you’re reading this after it has passed, you should check out these games anyway, because all of them are enjoyable in one way or another. Even Lunar Flight . Buy this bundle at least to get Bunny Must Die! and Cute Things Dying Violently . There’s only one day left.

About Lee

Lee Laughead writes stuff about video games. Read his Twitter at https://twitter.com/Mesarphelous even though Twitter sucks.
Animu, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Metroidvania, Music, Platformer, Puzzle, Video Gaming

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