Whilst experimenting with trials for an enjoyable co-op game when I stumbled upon Udder Chaos, a terrific Xbox Live Indie game. It proved enjoyable enough to warrant sticking some funds on my XBL account and purchasing it.
As with many indie titles, the premise is quirky and amusing in itself. You are protecting your cows from the oncoming hordes of alien spaceship with abduction on their minds. Starting off with relatively simple levels, it soon becomes pretty frantic, utter chaos you might say. The action is well paced and the difficulty progression seems spot on. Two players of differing gaming ability can happilyplay alongside each other, which surely is the most important aspect of co-op play!
There is a small variety of enemies from various colour aliens to those with distinct abilities, namely squirting milk onto the screen and putting a shield around all of the other spaceships. Aside from “more” factor there isn’t a great difference in the levels, but they are all enjoyable enough. Weapons can be upgraded via cash earned when playing the main “Waves” mode and there are also bombs that can be collected, allowing you to tactically take out the entire screen of ships. There is a slight flaw in this system as the amount of bombs at your disposal is consistent through levels so in order to restock you have to replay an easy level that doesn’t provide sufficient challenge. Perhaps I was meant to be more conservative with my bombs, but to be honest the balance in levels felt right when starting with max weapons. Either I’m wrong about a good difficulty balance, or bombs should really be automatically restocked.
There are two additional game modes, Endless and Kids Mode. Endless is pretty self-explanatory, ships keep coming an in increasingly greater numbers, until all your cows have been abducted. Upgrades can be collected in the form of power ups to allow the player to keep up with the increasing number of opponents and it works quite well. Increasingly fast and frantic, it is good fun although does become repetitive.
Kids Mode intrigued me but unfortunately disappointed me even more. It is effectively Endless mode where the difficulty is dumbed down to 1 shot kills and all scores, power ups etc have been removed. The idea of providing an easy mode to keep a child occupied is a good idea but not having any form of scoring or reward is a mistake. Once all your cows are gone its just “game over” leaving the player feeling “oh”. More and more these days we are looking to reward players and beyond that, children are encouraged via rewards within education and alike. As such you would expect a kid mode to be very rewarding, telling them that they have done well and making the child feel good about themselves. A simple scoring system & high score, as with the Endless mode, would have sufficed.
My biggest gripe with the game has to be the music. Strangely the music would be more apt at an underground night club than used for a fun, quirky and cartoony game. The same song is also used in kids mode, which seemed a little off.
Despite some flaws, the game is good fun, terrific value and I’d certainly recommend it. The game is at its best in co-op but is still worth the measly 80 points even if you don’t have any friends and wish to play single player.