Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet



Lightly violent side-scroller with great art, clever design.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The story involves light themes of path finding, discovery, and survival. There are no social or moral messages, subtle or overt.

Positive role models

Few intelligent creatures are seen in the game save the pilot of the flying saucer. This person’s motivation (evident through the player’s actions) is to find and destroy the evil entity that is wreaking havoc in his solar system.

Ease of play

Objectives are generally clear and the controls make sense without reading instructions. It should prove accessible to players of all experience levels. The twisting, cavernous paths can become a little confusing, but that’s a primary part of the game’s challenge.

Violence & scariness

Players can fire lasers from their spaceship to strike dark, exotic looking alien entities including spiky floating creatures, ones with tentacles, and bird-like fliers. Enemies simply disappear when struck.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some safety concerns: This game supports up to four players in online play with open communication

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a downloadable side-scrolling action game. Players navigate a flying saucer through a series of hostile sci-fi environments, avoiding spiky, explosive, floating alien creatures while using a variety of tools and weapons to find new ways forward. Violence is frequent but mild, with players shooting and disintegrating mindlessly aggressive enemies. Parents should know that this game supports up to four players in online play with open communication, a feature Common Sense Media does not recommend for pre-teens.

What's it about?

Players take the helm of versatile flying saucer in INSANELY TWISTED SHADOW PLANET, a downloadable side-scrolling action game available for Xbox 360. Presented with an enormous maze of twisting caverns filled with exotic looking and aggressive aliens, players glide through the caves collecting and using tools and weapons -- including a scanner, a grabber, a laser, and a shield -- to clear new paths and defend from attacks. The overarching design is vaguely reminiscent of classic Metroid games, which see players taking note of specific barriers in the maze and then coming back to them once they have the required tool or weapon. A multiplayer mode allows up to four players to work together locally or online as they flee an enormous beast.

Is it any good?


Its striking name may conjure up notions of terribly scary things, but Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is actually a pretty safe bet for most ages. Its highly stylized visual design is filled with spiky silhouettes and glowing red explosives, but the action is far removed from anything in the real world and nothing about the game -- not even its gliding, darting aliens -- is particularly spooky.

Instead, what we’ve been given is a cleverly crafted and finely tuned side-scrolling adventure game that encourages players to explore and experiment as they work their way through labyrinthine environments. The excitement felt when finding new weapons and tools is tangible, and while some sequences will test players’ reflexes an abundance of checkpoints ensures that players are unlikely to grow too frustrated. It’s a standout title in the Xbox 360’s library of downloadable games.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about using tools to solve real-life problems. How have you used tools to build things or overcome an obstacle?   

  • Families can also discuss art in games. Do you ever feel inspired by the artwork in the games you play? Have you ever attempted to emulate art in games?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:August 3, 2011
ESRB rating:E for Mild Fantasy Violence (Xbox 360)

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byromneysgirlfriend October 30, 2012

Insane Strategy Game

I rated this age 14+ for one reason. It is a hard game. It is a game not based on mere war, but strategy. The ship has many different upgrades which one must find in the game. The boss fights are not just a piece of cake. One thing: if you have this game and feel as if you need to restart, don't. You just need to think harder. As far as violence, I think it's a little more than the average 'E-rated' game. I think it could be scary for a younger child who may be watching it, especially under about 8 or 9. If you like sci-fi and strategy, I recommend this game. If you don't, for sure don't buy it for a younger child b/c it is WAY too hard, and you'll have wasted your money.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 17 years old Written byJourdy288 August 10, 2011

Decent game somewhat lacking in content

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is, artistically, an excellent game with decent, gameplay, primarily puzzle based with a spot of action. It's as if Tim Burton directed Asteroids. Overall, there isn't much objectionable content, a spot of violence, though it's rather low in impact, more like Asteroids or Galaga than anything else. The game is, however, lacking in content, and while the story is simple, it seems too simple. Also, there was one minigame that involves guiding a rocket through a maze. It can be a bit... Frustrating. Overall, though, the game is pretty decent, though it's probably worth trying before buying.


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