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Avatar Hunter Review (Indie)

Game Review: Avatar Hunter
Release: April 1st, 2010
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: MageStick X
Available Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1
MSRP: 80 MS Points
ESRB Rating: Not Rated

Avatar Hunter, unlike the name suggests, does not allow you to snipe your friend’s Avatar from a distance. Avatar Hunter, unlike the name suggests, does not allow you to collect and trade all of your friends’ avatars. Avatar Hunter is, effectively, a Card Match game, but with Avatars instead of suits. MageStick X has released this Indie title for 80 points, but is this an indie breakout hit, or a basic title not worth your download?

Have you ever played the card flip minigame in Super Mario Bros. 3? Or, possibly, the real-life variation? This is the same thing as all those others, except that you don’t get any items like in Mario, nor does it cost nothing, since you probably already have a deck of cards.

What it does do is expand the amount of “cards” per play, and change the graphics up ever so slightly. That’s about the only thing it gets right. It also comes with a stock set of Avatars, with no way to get people you know, or even yourself, in different outfits or anything.

There’s mention of a story, but it you’ve seen better plots in sketches on Saturday Night Live. Basically, an evil force has kidnapped “Avatar Twins”, and you have to unlock them. This is accomplished via opening the doors or revealing them behind blackboards or whatever theme of the level is. The level themes are “NYC Party”, “Hunter High”, “Hairdo Land”, “Wacky Tacky”, and “Random Land”. Not much changes between levels; “Hairdo Land” just has their hair be different styles than most people, for example. “Hunter High” has everyone in school uniforms, “NYC Party” has dress attire, and so forth. There are two modes, Time Attack and Challenge, which offer the same game, either with a time limit or a try limit. Only with Challenge do you actually get a challenge; it’s entirely possible to beat Time Attack without ever actually looking at the avatars, but instead cycling through each row and activating each card, blindly trying to get a few. Additionally, there’s a “Fireplace Mode”, which is literally what it sounds like; the fireplace in the menu screen just keeps burning.

Audio-wise and graphically, the game offers a few quips and pleads from the avatars, but you’ll quickly grow tired of theme. Additionally, the repetitive soundtrack will soon grate on you. The visual landscape reeks of Halloween, which is slightly awkward in April, but functions for the “story” of the game.

There’s many ways this game could be improved. Swap in some items that vary up gameplay (match a clock and have time slow down, for example), actually use Avatars of friends you know, increase difficulty by having avatars wear different outfits but be the same person, etc. For 80 MS Points, it’s not like it’s setting a high bar, but some simple improvements could have definitely increased the time you’ll want to spend in it.

Avatar Hunter is not worth your time. It’s the equivalent of a tech demo, but since there’s no real technology that it needs to demo, it’s not even worth it from a novelty point of view. Go buy a real deck of cards; you can do more with it.

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