Saturday, March 12, 2011


I remember when I first got excited about the Xbox Live Arcade, and the possibility of downloading old arcade favorites onto my Xbox. The whole downloadable game thing was something that I had never experimented with before, as I've always been a console gamer exclusively. But with this new magic box I could spend "Microsoft Points" and play Smash TV whenever I wanted?! Sign me up! So I took a liking to the arcade pretty early on. I bought things like Gauntlet, Contra, the afore mentioned Smash TV, and even some original stuff like Outpost Kaloki X.

Eventually though, I realized a couple of things, one that most of the games I was buying were both easily available to be played for free online from my PC and I actually still owned most of them, just for different consoles, and two, while 800 Microsoft Points may not sound like much, but 800 MS Points is equal to about $10 in real-life people money. So with that I started getting way pickier about which games I bought and which ones I didn't. I'm not sure if it was just me, or if there was a bit of a lull in the quality coming out for a while, but I eventually lost interest in the Arcade and rarely even looked at it.

For a long time there was nothing worth getting excited about, and then something happened, Microsoft took away the size limit on the games that could be put up for download, and an indie tab opened up where you could check out all kinds of awesome indie games for about a buck or two, and I got all wrapped up in the Arcade fever again. Summer seems to be the time that Microsoft and Sony really push the downloadable titles as it's historically been a slow season for major game releases. Microsoft's now annual "Summer of Arcade" is almost always full of great stuff that's actually worth the points, and I look forward to it every year.

I also look forward to Game Informer's "Impulse" articles every month, and it's the inspiration for this particular post. It's only two pages, and highlights a couple of the upcoming games from the XBLA and PSN, but I honestly could read an entire magazine devoted to downloadable games. At the very least I think it deserves more than two pages. There have been several games that I might not have even looked at if not for reading about them in Impulse first.

So I thought today I'd highlight some of my favorite more recent XBLA and PSN buys. Keep in mind that a lot of the time, I wait for sales and such before pulling the trigger, so most of these aren't going to be all that new release date wise, just recent purchases that I've made. I hadn't intended to ramble on and on here, so I'm keeping this part short as I'm sure most of you have either fallen asleep or just stopped reading at this point.

Shank - Shank is what would've happened if a Robert Rodriguez movie and Samurai Jack had a baby together. In fact if there ever were a Shank movie, I'm pretty sure it would be illegal if Robert Rodriguez didn't direct it, and Danny Trejo wasn't in it. The game is a side-scrolling shooter/beat em up with lots of style, blood, and bullets. It can get repetitive, and the difficulty can be frustrating, but not to the point that it detracts from the fun.

Alien Breed Evolution - Always been a fan of the top-down perspective in games. From as far back as I can remember I loved games like Ikari Warriors, Commando, Project Overkill, Loaded, and it's translated through the years from console to console. Alien Breed is a top-down sci-fi shooter, with some survival horror elements and loads of action. Good stuff , although a little dark as you're running around in a damaged space ship blasting spider-alien things to hell primarily by flashlight. This one also has online co-op but I've never done any of it as I'm the only one I know who has it.

Dead Nation - This one is a PSN exclusive that I just bought last week. So far I'm loving it. It plays a lot like Alien Breed, only with zombies. Sort of a top-down version of Left 4 Dead. Again, this one has online co-op but I haven't tried it out. One really cool thing for stat-whores though is that the game keeps up with how many zombies players have killed by country, as well as how much you've contributed to your country's tally. So far the U.S. is way out in the lead with Japan running a distant second. USA! USA! USA!

Scott Pilgrim vs the World - Scott Pilgrim is as old school as old school can be. The game plays and looks exactly like the old side scrolling beat em ups of my youth. Think Double Dragon! And the mission progression screen looks exactly like Super Mario World. So much fun for so little money, it captures the vibe of the comic perfectly and is a nice throwback to the games of yesterday.

Limbo - I've talked about Limbo here before, but I'm gonna do it again. This is one of the best platformers I have ever played, period. The puzzles are all difficult, but not to the point that they cause extreme frustration. They look impossible at times, but once you figure them out it makes perfect sense and you wonder why it took you so long in the first place. Limbo is done in black, white, and gray, and is absolutely gorgeous. It's atmospheric, creepy, and achieves all this using a "less is more" approach to things. It's deserving of all the praise it's received, and I would love to see a sequel at some point soon.

Ok so I think that's enough for now. This post has gone on for much longer than planned. There are tons of other great games I've played recently that I didn't mention, Splosion Man, Trials HD, Plants vs Zombies, and Hydro Thunder Hurricane to name a few, and still a few more that I'm awaiting price drops on, X-Men Arcade, Fat Princess, Dishwasher Dead Samurai, and most recently Torchlight. I keep a trained eye on the weekly deals tab on my Xbox, waiting for the day that X-Men Arcade hits that magic 400 pt. price mark. Wanna shout out any favorites that I haven't mentioned and may have missed, I'd love to hear them.

1 comment:

Drake Sigar said...

I’d play Alien Breed with you but my 360 is out of commission. I had the original on the Amiga – great game. The Plants Vs Zombies GOTY edition came out recently.