Content about XBLA


There are a number of great beat-em-ups to choose from on Xbox Live Arcade, including X-Men The Arcade Game, The Simpsons Arcade and, of course, the always favorable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  But folks out there might be seeking something a little more contemporary when it comes to beating people to a pulp, and that's where QOOC Soft's Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior's Rise comes in.  The idea is still the same – beat down a bunch of thugs and be the last man standing – but it takes place inside enclosed 3D arenas, and adds some gameplay gimmicks to be a bit more diversifying.  There's more satisfaction to it than we first expected, but it isn't quite the noble warrior it could've been.


I wanted to review Dust: An Elysian Tail because it looked beautiful. That and because, being part of XBLA's Summer of Arcade, the game had a chance at joining the revered company of titles like Braid, LIMBO, and Bastion.


2012 Summer of Arcade is gearing up to be once again another great year. Tony Hawk was the first followed by Wreckateer. Nothing has stood out from the pack so far, until now. Deadlight, the latest game in the 2012 summer lineup has it’s flaws, but is filled with 2D glory from beginning all the way through the end.


Trying to invigorate a game genre that’s gone to its point of extent is a tricky move.  On the one hand, you create a worthwhile game experience that’s bound to attract some kind of audience.  On the other, it’s not always guaranteed to work.  With that, we have Zivix’s JAM Live Music Arcade, a game that takes an assortment of rock tunes and lets you mix them however you please, provided you’re ready to switch between various instrument tracks.  At first, it definitely shows signs of innovations, but it’s when you’re trying to go to the next level with the game that it really shows how flawed a rock experience it is.


Remember the good ol’ days of arcade-style overhead racers?  I’m talking about stuff like Sega’s classic Hot Rod and even the original Codemasters NES release Micro Machines, where you would race along breakfast tables and garage floors trying to prove you were number one.  Well, these days, that formula of racer lives on, with EA’s Reckless Racing games doing some damage over on the iPad, as well as Bang Bang Racing, an offering from Digital Reality, doing donuts on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.  But did these guys manage to get the formula right, or does it stall out of the gate?


Remember last year when Techland and Deep Silver introduced the racing game Nail’d?  It actually provided a fresh new take on the ATV racing scene, thanks to its heavily vertical (yet still surprisingly cramped) level design and its non-stop speed.  Well, Ubisoft apparently liked it as well, as it’s commissioned the game’s developer, Techland, to do it all over again for Mad Riders, which hit Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this week.  And while some of the game’s flaws still remain intact, it remains a fun racer – especially if you’ve got online friends looking to join you.


If there’s one company that knows how to show appreciation for its classics, it’s Sega.  Over the years, they’ve re-released a number of their Genesis and arcade hits as digital downloads, and includes them in such compilations as Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection as well.  So it should be no surprise that it continues to beef up its Sega Vintage Collection, this time with a trio of games that, while not exactly fitting together in a theme, provide entertainment for old-school gamers and newcomers everywhere.


When Microsoft released Kinect Joy Ride a year and a half ago for its Xbox 360, it left audiences torn.  While casual players and kids got a kick out of holding onto an imaginary steering wheel and performing tricks, others just didn’t get the “feel” of the game, and left it behind in favor of the more hardcore racing terrain of Forza MotorSport 3.  With that, the company, in association with the development team at BigPark, opted to remake the game the way it was originally intended, as a downloadable release for Xbox Live Arcade.  So, now that Joy Ride Turbo has returned to its roots, is it a better run around the block?  Actually, yes.


I love Dragon’s Lair.  I’ve been an avid fan since I was a kid way back in 1983, and have collected a number of goods over the years, including a lunchbox (yes, really) and a poster autographed by Don Bluth and his team.  And I can play the original game backwards and forwards, and even name all the enemies that appear in it, from the Giddy Goons to the Lizard King.  So, yeah, when I was handed a code to check out Dragon’s Lair on Xbox Live Arcade, I was eager to give it a try and see if it held up as well as other versions of the game, like the ones for Wii (as part of the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy) and PlayStation 3.  But this time…something just doesn’t feel right.


Poor Max Payne.  All the painkillers and alcohol in the world just can’t seem to wipe away the memories of his slain family, nor the troublesome situations he lands in with enemies who want him dead.  So, of course, he’ll jump at the chance to take up private work elsewhere, offered by his cohort Passos, who provides him a gig where he provides protection for a real estate tycoon.  But it isn’t long before trouble sets in with a Brazilian drug trading gang snatching the tycoon’s wife, Fabiana, and Max has to do what he does best.  And so begins the long-awaited Max Payne 3, which easily lives up to the first two games…and stands as another fine accomplishment by the team at Rockstar Games.


We love it when old-school games get a re-release, for a number of reasons.  The sheer joy that the games themselves bring, the fact that we don’t need to hook up an old-school console (from a dusty closet) and a blown-out cartridge to play them, the fact we don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for the original game and instead invest just a few bucks to relive them…and the list goes on.  Sega has been well known as a company that loves their classic library, and over the next couple of weeks, they’ll prove it with five upcoming release packs for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.


When Minecraft was announced last year for Xbox 360, a lot of folks figured it wasn’t a surprise, since Microsoft is all about lining up exclusive fare for owners of its console.  But, still, isn’t it more at home on a PC?  Could the experience possibly be ported over to Xbox Live Arcade and keep its awesome resourcing system intact?  Well, after a long time in development, the game arrived this week on the Marketplace and answered that question with a well-deserved “yes”.


Deep Black: Episode One has been in production for what feels like ages.  The game was initially announced like four years ago, and back then it was known under the code name Underwater Wars (or U-Wars).  Since then, though, development notes here and there slipped out, but it almost seemed like the game would never release.  But, last week, it finally showed up, unannounced, as if 505 Games was slipping it under the door just to see who noticed.  After going through it, I can say that it has its problems, but it also has a few intuitive additions that make it stand out from the pack.  Whether that’s enough to make it worth a purchase depends on how much you can stomach the problems.


Ronimo Games dodged quite a bullet with the release of Awesomenauts, as the game’s publisher, DTG, was just about ready to file for bankruptcy, throwing its release into question.  But things got worked out, and now players everywhere will be able to experience the MOBA – multiplayer online battle arena – action that awaits within.  While there are things that are hard to overlook, the situations you can get into with friends really put the “Awesome” into the game’s name.


We’re all for trying something new in a long-running series, but the problem is when an idea is introduced that doesn’t pan out like the development team expected it to.  Sadly, this is looking like the case for Lionhead Studios’ Fable.  After three entertaining adventure outings, the series is drastically moving into Kinect territory later this year with Fable: The Journey, which, honestly, doesn’t look so hot right now.  To make matters worse, things don’t really fare much better with Lionhead’s recent XBLA release, Fable Heroes.


Billy and Jimmy Lee's impact on video games has been quite impressive over the years, starting with the duo's debut in Double Dragon in arcades well over 20 years ago.  Since that time, they've starred in countless iterations for the game, including a popular NES game and, as of late, an XBLA port of the original coin-op (though it's no longer available due to rights issues).  This summer, they're on the way back to the gaming scene for yet another comeback with Double Dragon Neon, Majesco's upcoming beat-em-up for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.  We recently caught up with Pete Rosky to chat about what to expect from this revival.


It's funny how the "little guy" can suddenly be propelled forward by the right project.  For the longest time, the team at Arkedo has been producing memorable platforming adventures for the Xbox Live indie games channel, including such titles as Jump! among others.  Featuring 8-bit style graphics, these guys have definitely felt an influence in classic gaming.  But now they've moved into the big time, as Sega is teaming up with them to produce the upcoming side scrolling action game Hell Yeah!, due for release this summer.


I love The Walking Dead TV series.  What’s not to love?  Even with the drastic changes that have taken place with season 2 (mostly with the departure of producer Frank Darabont), it’s retained all the awesome intensity and scares of the comic book series.  With that, Telltale Games has followed suit with the first of its five-part Walking Dead game saga, one that deviates from events in the show, opting instead to tell its own scary tale.  And you know what?  It’s a damn good one.


This summer will be a big one for Sega fans, as the company has recently announced that it is bringing back the Dreamcast classic Jet Set Radio for a whole new audience to enjoy.  Set to release in the next few months on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, the game will feature hours worth of skating and grafitti spraying fun, along with high definition visuals and most of the original soundtrack.  It's a party just waiting to happen, and you can bet that Beat and Gum will be in attendance.


Joe Danger fared very well for a man founded by a four-man development team at Hello Games.  His arrival on PlayStation Network brought big things a few months ago, and recently, he made an even bigger splash on Xbox Live Arcade, with additional levels and other goodies.  But now an even bigger adventure awaits him with the forthcoming Joe Danger the Movie, a game coming for unspecified platforms and introducing him to a whole new slew of excitement.  They don't call him Joe Danger for nothing.


It's pretty hard to top something when you set the standard for it.  Over the past couple of years, Klei Entertainment topped the side-scrolling action genre with the release of its Shank games, especially this year's Shank 2, which introduced a new co-op survival mode and plenty of additional bloody tactics.  However, rather than relish on the success of that game, Klei Entertainment is moving forward with an all new project for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, one that has a similar art style to its previous games, but plays completely different.  Get ready to make an impact with Mark of the Ninja.


Is there anything Twisted Pixel can't do?  After wowing Kinect players last year with The Gunstringer, the company followed up its original platforming game Splosion Man with an even better sequel, Ms. Splosion Man, featuring a variety of new levels, a trailblazing, chattering new heroine, and plenty of bonus items.  It remains an Xbox Live hit to this very day, but now the publisher is looking to bring the game to an all new front -- the App Store.


It seemed, at a glance, that Harmonix had done everything it possibly could with the Rock Band franchise.  There's been a trio of sequels that have introduced various instruments and new ways to play; thousands of songs released via DLC; and even band-specific games for Green Day and AC/DC, as well as a Lego spin-off. So what's left?  How about a new way to play?