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Xbox Live Indie Games Review - Cyborg Mice Arena

How could you pass up something that looks as ridiculous as this.

How could you pass up something that looks as ridiculous as this. I almost did.

Okay, I'll be perfectly honest here, when I saw this, I automatically dismissed it ... I mean ... Cyborg Mice Arena? What on Earth? But then I played it ... and while it does have some flaws, it's a hell of a lot of fun. The game is played at an isometric level (like you're looking down at it at an angle), uses the two sticks for moving around and aiming. The left and right triggers to fire one of two weapons (or both). The right bumber does a melee attack where your mouse whips his tail around. And the A button fires off a powerful EMP that will destroy anything that's unlucky enough to be in it's wake. You fight against drones get more powerful and grow exponentially in numbers to get money to upgrade your mouse. It's a pretty simple concept, and it really reminds me a lot of Gauntlet in the way it plays. Drone generators pop out at random throughout the level, and start producing drones until they're destroyed. Ammo and health come from the fallen enemies, which you will DEFINITELY need. After a while of playing it goes from about 10 enemies or so to 90 and beyond. I don't know how far the waves go, but DAMN. Read on. :)


When you first start the game, your mouse doesn't have any implants. Has a pea shooter pistol and a shotgun which he dual wields. The game then runs you through a tutorial showing you the different aspects of the game and to show you the controls and what to do with which enemies and whatnot. When you finish that you get $5,000 to use to unlock weapons and/or abilities for your mouse. THIS is where it gets interesting, because the first time I started playing it I got to about Wave 8 ... after I added some upgrades to my mouse I managed to make it to wave 89 I believe it was before I finally got completely overrun, and that took a good 45 minutes of nonstop play. Then I had enough money to unlock EVERYTHING for my mouse, including all the atages and game modes. Now, granted, that doesn't seem like a long time. But I only played it on Easy and got that far. I tried to move up to Medium and Hard, and it gets HARD.


And there is a fair amount of stuff to unlock in this game. There are different stances for your mouse, the first one is the standing stance. And you can own up to two of each type of weapon (one for each hand, or combining them if you want). Your pea shooter pistol, a rapid firing SMG, shotgun, mini plasma that's pretty slow to fire, but the shot explodes and destroys everything in a small radius around it after a bit. And, my personal favorite, the impressive looking flamethrower that comes in REALLY handy later in the game when you're getting overrun by enemies. The next stance is prone, where your mouse is on all fours, and the weapons get strapped to his back. There's the machine gun, plasma and heavy flame for this. And playing the game prone is a whole other way to play as well, though I like standing better personally. And of course the cybernetic implants for your arms, legs and tail to make your mouse shoot faster, move faster and be able to smack enemies even harder with his melee attack. The equipment part lets you buy things for your mouse such as slowly regenerating health, a beacon for multiplayer that lets you place a beacon on  yourself to make yourself the target if one of your buddies you're playing with is about to die or is just getting completely overrun. An option to double your starting and quick-buy ammo and, my favorite, something to make that destructive EMP even bigger.


You can unlock two more game modes for the game on top of the excellent Wave mode where you try to survive wave after wave of enemies. There's an endless mode where they just keep coming and coming and a Versus Team Battle mode with unlimited ammo, but the scores aren't recorded. I unfortunately have yet to play this multiplayer, I am going to the next time I make it over to a friend's house. I can only see this game getting more and more insane with 3 other people. Although, unfortunately, it doesn't have Xbox Live support. It's all just local.

The major thing where this game is lacking is the amount of maps. At first you only have access to one. But once you get enough money you can unlock 4 more. And while they each have their own unique look and layout, they just don't feel all that different to me. Now it does help that you can do things like turn random obstacles on or off and play with other people, but it's just not quite enough to it. It needs a whole lot more stages in this writer's opinion.


Now graphically, even though the animations are a little stiff and the frame rate tends to take a slight hit when there's a LOT going on onscreen, they are quite good and serve the game perfectly  in it's extremely hectic style of playing. The mouse looks great, the enemies are small in overall types but each have their own distinctive look and behavior that adversely effects how you go about playing it. And the weapon effects for guns like the plasma and flamethrower are pretty impressive. The rest of the bullets are basically colored circles that fly through the air, but hey. It works. One minor detail against it is that when an enemy or drone generator is destroyed they just simply disappear. No little explosions or anything. But given the fact that when you get to really playing it there's a LOT of stuff dying a LOT, and I have a feeling having seperate explosions would bring the frame rate to it's knees. And on the darker colored maps, it's a bit hard to see those little tiny cats which is kind of a bitch because they're the most dangerous enemy in the game. :)

The sound is pretty standard stuff, the weapons sound pretty good but they don't have much of a feeling to them. The enemies each have their own unique style sounds, so you know in all the craziness what's going on. But the music is top notch. The game even comes with a completely seperate Music Player to play the music for the maps you've unlocked, and ALL of it is simply outstanding techno/dance style music. I just wish the Music Player supported random play or something like that, because this is really good stuff. This can be found in the Gallery part of the main menu. Also in there is a 13 page hand drawn book called Cyborg Mice Origin. It even has subtitles for the book that can be toggled on and off because the text on the pages are honestly a little hard to read (maybe that's because I'm still in the stone age with a 480p TV, I don't know :) ) and is just great fun to read because it takes everything DEAD serious. And for you people who need to be told you've done a good job, the game has rewards it gives you for doing certain things. So far I've gotten all of them but 4, 2 of which being secret ones.

7.5 - I'm going to play the multiplayer part of this the first chance I get, but being that I'm not much of a multiplayer guy (I much prefer it over Xbox Live) I'm kinda reviewing this from a single player perspective. Despite the lack of maps and the few little flaws here and there, there is a hell of a lot of fun to be had here and it's well worth every cent. The trial just doesn't do it justice because it doesn't show how fast and completely insane this game gets. Right now it's 200 points, which comes out to $2.50, and is definitely worth it. Go after your score, and being able to blow stuff away with 3 other people is great icing on the cake, and will do very well for those Friday and Saturday nights of drinking large amounts of alcohol. :) If nothing else if you like techno music and hate playing good games, buy it for that. the music rules.

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Comments (2) Trackbacks (1)
  1. I keep meaning to try this one just have not gotten to it. Looks like I’ll have to soon.

  2. The trial doesn’t do it justice, because in Wave mode later on it gets fuckin’ insane. And endless mode, I’m gonna see just how long I can last in that sometime given that I don’t really care about the score too much and I just kill the little bastards as soon as they show up. When you get the upgrades for the mice, they run as fast as the SMG bullets that are flying across the screen (I just choose to dual wield those. hehe)

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