'Filler' - Xbox Live Indie Games Showcase

Filler

The "wife test," devised by game designer Warren Spector, consists of three questions:

1) Will my wife play this game?

2) Will my wife want to play this game again?

3) Will my wife play this game even when I’m not around?

"Filler" passes the wife test like no game since "Rock Band." It’s a simple game, but that’s much of what makes it so accessible, and so addictive.

You control a dot, blowing up bubbles to fill the screen. Your bubbles get bigger as you hold down the button, but if any of the floating red dots touch your bubble before you close it off, you lose a life, and if your bubble is too small, it’ll shrink to nothing before you finish a level, and you’ll lose a life. Your beat a level by filling two-thirds of the screen, and with each level, more red dots appear.

That’s all there is to it---it’s basically a more free-form version of "Qix," and the kind of thing you’ve probably played already as a Flash game. Where "Filler" gets both console-specific and great is the addition of co-op. With multiple players, you can manipulate the game’s intuitive physics in all kinds of clever ways: trapping the enemy dots, creating safe zones, and timing your bubbles together to divide and conquer the playing field.

I’ve probably poured ten hours into the game already, and I’m still discovering new strategies. Add in the game’s brutally hard challenge levels, and "Filler" is one of the best value-for-money deals on the Xbox 360, and some of the best family fun this season.