Not to be cynical or anything, but evenings spent trawling the Xbox Live Indie Games service for demos and whatnot tends to uncover a lot of horse poop (and heck, I think there’s a game out there which is actually about horse poop).
I’m thus proud to report that I actually quite like Colosseum.
At first I was worried that it would turn out to be an extremely pretty — yet horrifically droll — arena fighter brawly thing, but it seems that my initial impressions were quite thoroughly incorrect. I love this freaking thing. It has a good balance of visual appeal, careful combat design and all-round cool which usually evades devs in this area, and stuff like unlockable content and fun multiplayer just sweeten the deal.
Colosseum very nearly went under my radar due to its rather unconventional control system (just imagine handling Ninja Gaiden like a twin-stick shooter), but the odd design decisions turn out to be pretty intelligent once you get the hang of things. And you’re kinda forced to get used to it, too: the single player mode is challenging enough to eliminate anyone who approaches it gormlessly. A good thing too, since there’s nothing crappier than being able to steamroll a game without ever actually understanding it.
This game’s apparently been hanging around for about two years already, so I’m keen to go investigate the other titles that I’ve spotted on the developer’s page. If you’re a supporter of XBIG titles but somehow missed the boat on this one like me, then I’d encourage you to spend your next 240 Microsoft points on this bugger. I thought it was jolly good fun.