Indie Games, where the heart and soul is!

Cepinas #XBLIG VVG Indie Verse Review

VVG Indie Verse Review


By: Mr. Deeke

Thanks for joining VVG Indie Verse for another iteration of Xbox Indie Reviews: today we’ll be taking a look at a sci-fi shmup called Cepinas from a German Xbox Indie Game studio called Pame Interactive. Cepinas is an interesting and unique Xbox Indie that incorporates aspects of classic 2D space shooter with mechanics found in Spacewar!, one of the first known digital computer games created all the way back in 1962 (1).

These realistic space physics and ship control dynamics can be seen in a few Xbox Indie titles including Nova Lancer from Rickettz Studios.

Cepinas 80 MSP

This sci-fi futuristic space shooter is quite unique in it’s general mechanics and concepts: the goal in this game is to conquer planets by successfully flying in an orbital path around the planet on a set trajectory. Once a player closes the ring around the planet, the celestial body becomes “conquered”–yet all through the reaches of space there will be hazards such as other ships who are trying to stop their progress. Players must eliminate these threats all the while putting their dexterity and focus skills to the test.


  • Developer – Pame Interactive
  • Genre – Space Shooter (Shmup)
  • XBL Marketplace URLCepinas
  • Release Date – 3/24/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before You Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
  • Rating – 3.75/5

“CEPINAS is a sci-fi Space Shooter / Strategy game. Conquer planets with the “CONQ” weapon, defend them against the aggressive invanders and become the new emperor of the universe. Choose wisely your path to victory, become a unstoppable one man Army or make your conquered planets to self-defending battlestations.

–Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

Cepinas is a futuristic sci-fi space-shooter set in the distant future where planets are conquered for their valuable resources.

Hundreds of ships flee to the stars in order to colonize and conquer other planets in faraway systems and galaxies in order to garnish the precious resources within the celestial bodies themselves. It’s a race against time and other enemy factions to claim as many planets as possible to ensure survival.

II. Game Mechanics

Cepinas combines many interesting aspects into one enjoyable game that is entertaining as it is original and unique. Using 2D space shooter elements (the way the ship flies on a two-dimensional plane with a top-down view, for example) and unique concepts such as the planet conquering orbital path. Players must fly within the white ring around the planet, holding LT for the conquering chain, and wrap it around the planet–no matter how messy the design, as long as it’s unbroken and within the white ring the planet should be successfully conquered.

The controls are somewhat difficult to use correctly and take some practice to get used to unless the player is accustomed to this type of game. All in all the flight controls feel a bit off and may be frustrating at first, however once players are used to them it becomes easier. Pressing RT uses thrust, A shoots a linear shot from wherever the ship is facing, LT controls the conquer device, and the Left and Right Analog sticks control flight.

There is a realistic physics system in place that mirrors that of space: ships will drift in space in whatever direction they were previously propelled in–this mechanic is quite interesting and I find it to be both fun and annoying at times. Players must utilize the ship’s thrust which is used by pressing RT to be able to move freely through space. This accounts for some of the awkwardness in the controls and it can take a bit to get acclimated with the ship’s orientation in space.

Image from CEPINAS

Players are also timed in this game, adding to the challenge of conquering as many planets as possible while destroying any enemies in their way. It’s also imperative to try to destroy enemies who are trying to conquer planets, however this can be difficult while players are trying to conquer planets of their own.

Care and precision are required to succeed in this game, making it more about dexterity than quite reflexes–although they are still required when players must exterminate enemies. Most of the time enemies will try to conquer the same planet that players are trying to conquer, so they are forced to annihilate the threat or face defeat. It is also possible to re-conquer planets once they’ve previously been conquered, so players will have to resort to the mini-map’s helpful color co-ordination in order to know which planets are designated as their own.

For both enemy kills and successful planets conquered players receive Cash which acts sort of like EXP in a way. Cash is required to purchase upgrades that enhance gameplay in many ways and make the later stages somewhat easier. These upgrades include Weapon Upgrades, Shield Upgrades, and general enhancements to the ship itself to aid in gameplay.

The in-game mini-map is extremely useful in this game as it shows not only the player’s location, but the enemy’s location and all of the planets in the current system. It’s crucial to pay attention to this map in order to successfully vanquish enemies and conquer as many planets as possible in the allotted timeframe. Although the map is scaled, it’s still very useful and can determine the outcome of many rounds in this sci-fi shmup mashup.

III. Weapons/Items

In Cepinas there are a number of upgrades to buy with Cash that affect the ship’s strength and other attributes. These upgrades also include Weapon Upgrades, which there are three different types of: Single Shot, Three-Way, and Double-Shot, each of which offering single, double, and triple shots fired.

Other upgrades include a Shield that protects the ship from impact and enemy shots, and a Speed Boost that enhances movement speed throughout space. Also when players conquer planets, they can upgrade them with certain additions such as Satellites. Satellites have varying degrees of strengths depending on their value, and each satellite follows the planets orbit shooting at nearby enemies and protecting the conquer path.

Image from CEPINAS

This level of customization and tactical strategy adds themes of RTS within the game, making it more distinguished and interesting. With a whole system of conquered planets its possible to be an incredibly powerful galactic force that destroys all enemies within range. In Cepinas its possible to build an entire universal empire focused on the annihilation of enemies and the preservation of player’s colonies.

IV. Unique Features

The game mechanics of Cepinas are quite unique as they introduce many elements found in other gametypes–such as the 2D space shooter theme–and meld them together with elements found in action oriented games where dexterity and focus are required. From shmup mechanics to RTS elements, Cepinas has an array of different elements that make it a mashup sort of Xbox Indie title.

Cepinas also features eight different systems to play within Campaign Mode: Zeron, Qualik, Dekol, Chesa, Melen, Kopro, Bromo, and Koragi Systems. Each system is different than the one before it and offers quite stunning galactic environments and celestial formations–the planets themselves are visual works of art that compliment the game quite nicely.

This game also offers Online Multiplayer over Xbox Live, a feature that is somewhat rare in titles that only cost 80 MSP. I’m surprised in all that this title offers, and it may be difficult to find a random match over XBL so it’s recommended that players find other players on forums or a social network and set up private matches. This is very useful for gamers who enjoy playing space shooter titles with their friends–however this game only has online multiplayer and doesn’t feature local play.

Image from CEPINAS

V. Critique

The Good

The Graphics and Visuals. Melding 2D classic space shooter sprites with celestial expanses and environments is what Cepinas does best–it’s use of impressive artwork supplements gameplay with enjoyable and entertaining visuals. While playing this game players feel as if they are immersed into another galaxy, in the stars in deep space fighting enemy ships in a foreign and alien universe–this is mostly attributed to the graphical design of the game which utilizes very impressive-looking visuals.

It’s Unique and Original. Although Cepinas possesses aspects that are found in other games, it distinguishes itself from other titles through it’s use of the “planet conquering” game mechanic as well as the level of depth that it offers. For an 80 MSPtitle, Cepinas offers quite expansive gameplay that can be engrossing to those that enjoy deeper sci-fi shooter type games.

Online Multiplayer Over Xbox Live. Multiplayer through Xbox Live isn’t a feature that is normally included in most Xbox Indie titles–most of them feature local co-op or multiplayer. This game allows players to enjoy the title with their friends over the internet without having to play split-screen on the same console which is an advantage in strategic games like Cepinas.

The Bad

It’s Challenging. Cepinas offers quite a bit to gamers, however to be able to enjoy most of the features players first have to get used to the somewhat awkward controls that serve as the basis of this sci-fi shooter. While the controls offer some difficulty, the main test is trying to evade and destroy enemies all while focusing, with increased dexterity, on conquering planets by staying in the orbital path. In the later stages the game becomes challenging and frustrating, and it may turn some players off of the game.

VI. Wrap-Up

Overall, Cepinas is quite an interesting and unique Xbox Indie mashup with elements from sci-fi shmup and RTS-style customization and upgrades. Featuring an array of enjoyable features such as Online Multiplayer over Xbox Live, impressive visuals and graphics, and unique gameplay mechanics with realistic physics dynamics, Cepinas is a great game for fans of space shooters.

For more information on Cepinas and the studio that developed it, Pame Interactive, please visit their website.

Source: (1) Spacewar! Wikipedia Article


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