Some time ago I picked up one of the awesome indie game soundtrack bundles1 (see http://www.gamemusicbundle.com/ for more info), which came with the soundtrack to a shooter called Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony by Chilean composer Francisco Cerda. I was so impressed by the quality of the soundtrack that I wanted to try out the game - a very rare occurence for me. (Incidentally, I was playing Jamestown while my girlfriend was getting ready to go out and the first thing she said coming out of the restroom was "What were you playing? The music was really good!"). As is typical of my buying habits, I picked up the game when it was on sale on Steam and gave it a go.
Jamestown, by Final Form Games, is a 'bullet-hell' shooter set in a fictional 'history' where an English, Martian colonist battles a Spanish conquistador hellbent on using ancient alien technology to become all-powerful... or something. The plot is unimportant, but its utter weirdness - Mars, 1666 - adds a lot of personality to an already wild title.
'Bullet Hell shooters' are games where you fly a craft along an auto-scrolling screen, typically moving vertically, using your avatar to shoot and destroy enemies that appear along the way. What makes them 'bullet hell' is that enemies shoot back massive numbers of shots, such that they fill the entire screen. You need lightning fast reflexes to either dodge the projectiles or throw up your limited shields in the nick of time. Practice makes perfect.
I'm not a connoisseur of shooters in general - they're really a very Japanese genre with niche appeal in the West - and I've had mixed feelings about the few that I've played. Some classics, Gradius, R-Type, Lifeforce, etc. were great for when you had a few minutes to kill here or there. However, some of the modern beloved shooters, like Ikaruga, are so insanely difficult that they make me want to throw my controller/keyboard out of the window.
Jamestown is reasonably challenging and relatively simple in design as compared to many titles of the genre. There are no power ups; your ship gets only the abilites that you chose to begin with, which include basic and special firing modes and a short burst shield that both protects you and increases your score multiplier. The shield must be charged by destroying enemies, and the main mechanics revolve around staying alive long enough to power the shield such that you can use it to avoid death during a massive bullet volley.
Like all such titles, the 'main' quest of Jamestown is quite short: ~2 hours. But that's not really the point. There are multiple challenge modes and bonus levels that can be played for 10 minutes here and there when you want to brush up on your reflexes or go for a high score.
Yet again, I've found another awesome indie title, and this time in a genre that I generally avoid. When I think about the amount of satisfaction that I typically get from a $60 game, I find that my bang-per-buck from these 5$-$10 indie titles is often significantly greater (I paid $3.33 for Jamestown). It's utterly clear to me that something has to come along and shake up the industry's pricing model - at least making it much more flexible. These bite-sized titles are starting to kill.
1A couple of years ago, I realized that instrumental soundtracks are perfect background music for doing writing and computer work, so I've started picking up movie and game scores when I can find them for a reasonable price.