The Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace is rife with half-baked ideas and poor production values. Its existence as a place for amateur programmers to showcase their talents and test new ideas is admirable, but rarely does it translate into an actual, solid game. I’m more than willing to pay a couple bucks for an interesting concept, but REVOLVER360 is one of the few times on the Indie Games Marketplace I felt like I paid a couple bucks for an actual game.

A 2D shooter at heart, REOLVER360 is rendered in 3D with a visual style that’s reminiscent of 90s console tech demos and their blurry, not quite accurate promises. You have two attacks, your basic “bullet” weapon that can destroy enemies and a “laser” which can destroy both enemies and most enemy bullets, but takes time to charge between uses. The game’s name comes from the fact that the left and right triggers on the controller are used to rotate your enemies and their bullet formations.

This rotation mechanic is used to avoid barrages of enemy fire, but more importantly it’s used to line up enemy bullets to be destroyed with your laser. Destroying bullets gets you more points and bonuses, so the more bullets you can take out in a single blast, the better. It’s a simple idea in practice, but like any good shooting game mechanic, takes considerable time to master. Switching between attacks and rotating bullet patterns takes a fair amount of coordination, resulting in a learning curve that it’s difficult, but not insurmountable.

With two game modes (one with a limited number of levels, the other with the only limit being your health meter) the emphasis is clearly on replaying the game to achieve better scores. In this regard, it succeeds as well as any 2D shooter can: the simple, yet nuanced, game mechanic encourages you to keep playing, and a rudimentary online ranking system (which, unfortunately, is often buggy and doesn’t work) lets you share your scores and compete against yourself.

Visually it’s a step above most indie games, but there’s only so much polish you can put on abstract 3D objects. The backgrounds are nice and consist of vaguely recognizable scenes of blue skies, city streets and alien planetscapes. If you have a fondness for early 3D games, you’ll find the style charming, but for everyone else it’ll just get the job done.

While it lacks the robust feature set or visual flourish of a full priced shooting game, REVOLVER360 offers a lot for a $3 game. By doing so it provides a worthwhile alternative to expensive import shooters, offering a game value far surpassing its cost.

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