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The release of Mark of the Ninja way back in October was what originally inspired me to do the Indie Platformer Marathon. It reminded me that I’d been collecting quite a lot of cool-looking indie platformers, but hadn’t actually played them yet. So I figured I’d play through a bunch at once, with Mark of the Ninja as the finale. It wasn’t until after the Marathon was underway that I learned that Mark of the Ninja is not actually indie — it’s published by Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft are kind of the opposite of indie. But then I learned that it isn’t that simple. Apparently if you want to release your game on the Xbox 360 (or the upcoming Xbox One), your game must have a publisher. Microsoft does not allow self-published games on their consoles. That means that, since I’ve defined “indie” as “self-published”, there are no indie games on the Xbox. But there is an “Xbox Live Indie Games” service, so what does that mean? Apparently, if you’ve got a game that you self-published, and you want to get it on the Xbox, then you sign a deal with — surprise surprise — Microsoft Studios.

So how much involvement did Microsoft studios really have with Mark of the Ninja? Did they just act as the distributor on Xbox, or were they actually funding (and influencing) development? Developers Klei Entertainment have a strong indie track record, from their early title Eets to their latest title Don’t Starve, but they’re most famous for Shank, which was actually published by Electronic Arts (possibly also as a bid to get on the Xbox). So is Mark of the Ninja actually indie? I don’t know. To be safe, I’ve decided to extend the marathon to one more game (OK, I was actually going to do that anyway, it doesn’t really have anything to do with whether Mark of the Ninja is indie or not), making this the penultimate entry. More importantly, though: who cares? Let’s talk about how excellent Mark of the Ninja is.