Xbox Community Focus: Groov, Altar of Gems, & Artoon

Welcome to Xbox Community Focus TGR’s weekly feature spotlighting Xbox Live Community Games and independent development. Given the enormous amount of content that is hitting the marketplace, we’ve leafed through the Community Games channel, and come up with three games you ought to try this week.

Groov

Groov

Groov is a dual-stick shooter on the Xbox Community Games channel that combines the look of Geometry Wars (to the point of copyright infringement) and Everyday Shooter. As you shoot at randomly shaped enemies, they’ll have a different instrument or vocal clip play and add to the background music that is already playing.

As you kill more enemies and get a higher score, you’ll get to play another “wave” or song — until you run out of lives. There is no bomb mechanism, however, and it is a pretty hefty challenge to avoid getting hit, even early on.

While the game isn’t new or innovative in any way, if you haven’t played a game like Everyday Shooter on the PlayStation 3, grabbing the demo of Groov is a worthy substitute.

Altar of Gems

Altar of Gems

Much in the same vein as Puzzle Fighter HD, Altar of Gems will have you matching up gems of the same color. That is where the similarities between the two games end. Altar doesn’t have nearly as many deep gameplay elements as Puzzle Fighter, but it still manages to offer a compelling competitive puzzle game experience.

In Altar of Gems, you’ll challenge up to three other players and match up gems, preventing them from reaching the top of the screen. As you match four same-color gems, you are given mana to add platforms to your opponents screen, increasing the opportunity for them to fail. Alternatively, you can choose to use that mana to reduce the number of platforms you have on your screen.

It’s pretty basic and probably a little too pricey at 400 Microsoft Points ($5), but as it stands, checking out the demo is a worthwhile affair.

Artoon

Artoon

Hands down, Artoon is the best Community Game featured this week. It’s not just because the main character shares a first name with a very esteemed, handsome and witty writer (ahem); the stylish levels, the great controls, and overall polish speak for themselves.

In Artoon, you control a little blob ball named Art. Your objective is to bounce from platform to platform, coloring a certain percentage of them before reaching a goal marker. That’s about it. However, there’s plenty of depth to be found in the game. For example, certain blocks need to be “worn down” by jumping on them multiple times. However, if you jump on the same platform more than once, your score multiplier is taken away.

Even early on you’re treated to a couple of aesthetically pleasing environments named “Interference” and “Metropolis." Instead of describing them for you, go on and download the demo, at the very least. In reality, though, Artoon deserves an outright purchase.

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