Antipole Review (Xbox LIVE Indie Games)
Posted by Jim Cook, Jan 25, 2011 05:02
The XBLIG service seems very well suited to offer classic game styles at a low price, and Antipole takes advantage of that. At first glance it looks like just another 2D platformer, but generally sound level design and the addition of gravity manipulation help it stand out as a good game. Taking control of a man who looks much like a 90s-era Michael Jackson or Hazama from BlazBlue, players get to run, jump, and shoot their way through several stages.
Antipole is excellently paced, easing players into learning all of its controls over the first few stages before it gets serious. You’ll be given easy places to figure out your gun, how gravity shifts affect not only you but also enemies and their weapons, and shown the coins you want to collect in order to unlock special challenge stages. After that, the next dozen stages or so are quite reasonable in difficulty and they include a few boss fights that go much better with clever use of gravity. It’s only toward the end of the game that things get particularly difficult, with the normally more forgiving spikes (doing one point of damage from a five-point health meter) being replaced by instantly fatal acid and other such obstacles.
The game offers about twenty normal stages, though you’re encouraged to try them again on Hard difficulty, speed-run them, or play the unlockable Challenge levels as well. Those levels are aptly named, expecting the player to have an excellent grasp of Antipole’s physics, great timing, and a lot of patience... though they are there as optional stages for expert players, rather than required to beat the main game. In any event, Antipole should have you covered regardless of whether you’re interested in a serious challenge or simply want something that isn’t too hard nor too easy.
There are a few things to take issue with in Antipole, though they’re mostly annoyances or minor regrets rather than serious problems. The most prominent is just how loose and ’wild’ the controls are; it takes a delicate hand to move your character around without slamming into some stage hazards, though experience will eventually help you get over this. There are also cases of the hidden coins being extremely close to those same hazards, such that you need absolutely perfect timing to safely grab them... but Antipole is usually generous with health refills to make up for this. The only things that are significant problems would be that it isn’t always obvious when you’re hurting an enemy (especially the bosses), and that a few levels require you to take leaps of faith that can end in you landing on a stage hazard you couldn’t see.
Overall, Antipole does far more right than it gets wrong. It’s a $3 USD/240 Microsoft Point game in the old 2D platformer style, and the gravity controls add an interesting twist to things. Antipole is a short game, but not so short as to make you feel ripped off; you’ll easily enjoy an evening or two with it as you would with genre heavyweights like Mega Man 10. With competent platforming mechanics, a reasonable stage variety, and Antipole just being good fun in a classical style, it’s pretty easy to recommend for purchase.
Rating: 5.0, votes: 3