1001 Spikes and Blood of the Werewolf unleash old-school platforming on Xbox consoles

E3 has been a hectic week of new console game announcements, both retail and downloadable. With so many ID@Xbox games just announced for the Xbox One, it's easy to miss that a new indie game actually came out this week! 1001 Spikes is a retro-style platformer from Japanese developer 8bits Fanatics and publisher Nicalis. I guarantee fans of Spelunky, platforming, and local multiplayer will absolutely eat it up.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 picked up a new downloadable platformer of its own. Blood of the Werewolf from Scientifically Proven and publisher Midnight City/Majesco is a single-player platformer featuring classic movie monsters. It carries a value price of $6.99, making it one of the most affordable XBLA releases in quite some time.

Here's our impressions of both titles, including exclusive screenshots and hands-on video of 1001 Spikes!

1001 Spikes

Back in March, Microsoft announced a batch of 25 ID@Xbox games coming to Xbox One – including 1001 Spikes. Now 1001 Spikes has launched, giving Super Time Force a serious run for its money as the best indie title for the Xbox One so far.

1001 Spikes (full title: Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes) stars a pulp-style adventurer on a quest to liberate a fabled treasure from a deadly temple. The game is a love letter to the platformers of yore, coming to life entirely through beautiful retro pixel art and uber-catchy chiptunes. It really looks and feels like an NES game, only much larger in scale and with some excellent multiplayer.

1001 Spikes for Xbox One co-op

Old games were harder than most newer games, and that applies to 1001 Spikes as well. Each level is filled with traps that will kill Aban instantly if he's not careful. Unlike Spelunky though, the levels are hand-crafted instead of procedurally generated. When you take a hit, you can learn from it and avoid the pitfall on your next attempt. And you have 1001 lives with which to beat the campaign, so the game feels challenging but fair.

In addition to 2-player local co-op in the campaign, 1001 Spikes also offers three arcade modes for up to 4 local players. Only one starts out unlocked, and it even features a lengthy (and fantastic) cinematic intro, just like the main campaign. Players choose from four characters (including a Halo Spartan, a Castlevania-style hunter, and a Ghosts n' Goblins-style knight) and battle through 19 single-screen competitive stages. You respawn right when you die, making arcade mode a blast even for less skilled players.

1001 Spikes for Xbox One arcade mode

1001 Spikes is one of those games that doesn't push the Xbox One hardware in any way. But unlike Nutjitsu, it's beautiful and unique looking and packs tons and tons of modes, content, and characters to unlock. We'll share more details in our upcoming review! Also, you need a US account to download the game for now.

Blood of the Werewolf

Like 1001 Spikes, Blood of the Werewolf is a challenging action platformer. It's a lot less pretty though, with a middling art style and a camera that seems zoomed out too far for a 2.5D game.

Looks aside, Blood of the Werewolf has a real Castlevania vibe – now that I can appreciate. Players take on the role of Selena, a lady werewolf who must rescue her child from monsters after her husband is murdered. She'll journey across 10 story levels and battle more than 30 types of monsters along the way. And she switches back and forth between werewolf and human forms depending on the in-game moon, a very cool mechanic.

Blood of the Werewolf XBLA Xbox 360

Besides the main Story mode, Blood of the Werewolf offers its fair share of extra stuff to do. A brand-new for 360 Endless Challenge mode provides procedurally-generated levels that up the difficulty considerably. Players can also engage in Master Challenges, developer-approved challenge levels.

I haven't actually played Blood of the Werewolf, but it looks fun and the price is right for the production values on offer. Let us know if you try it!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!