Content about Xbox Live Arcade

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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.


FreQuency and Amplitude, as far as rhythm games go, are close to perfection. While the included soundtracks weren't always slices of heaven, the track-capturing, fast-moving musical roller coaster foreshadowed the eventual success of Guitar Hero and Rock Band and a host of me-too releases whose popularity is now certainly waning.


Frenzied fighters comprise a good portion of any retro gramer's library, and for good reason: they're ridiculously fun. From Pocket Fighter to Darkstalkers, these colorful, frenetic brawlers incorporate hilariously varied and random combos, loud artwork, and fluid animations to back it all up. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is a blast from the past that follows in the footsteps of these fantastic games -- a Dreamcast/PlayStation release that followed the events of the popular manga. The cult classic is celebrating its 25th anniversary and to commemorate the event Capcom has released an HD version via PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Nostalgia can be a powerful factor when influencing our feelings one way or another toward particular releases, but is that enough to propel this bizarre adventure into greatness?


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.


If you owned a PlayStation back in “the day” and played shooters a lot around that time, you might remember a top-down 3D entry called Raystorm, brought to US shores by Working Designs and its shooter label, Spaz Games.  It was quite a brilliant offering at the time, packed with great music, colorful visuals and challenging shooting action.  The game recently underwent a resurgence on Xbox Live Arcade as Raystorm HD, with excellent results, and now it’s made its way to the App Store, following the release of Rayforce earlier this year.  This game fares much better, and is a must for anyone who’s hardcore about mobile shooters.


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?


What may work well on the mobile scene doesn’t always translate to console success.  True, there are those cases where a game’s crossover appeal is better than expected, like when Angry Birds made its debut as a PS Mini last year, but for the most part, they’re two separate markets, and some games don’t transition well between them.  Take Babel Rising, for instance.  With some more effort, Ubisoft could’ve made this a roaring beast on Xbox Live Arcade.  Instead, it’s more like a whimpering kitty.


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.


Since its release over the past few months on both mobile platforms and consoles, The Pinball Arcade has become a popular release with both pinball fans and newcomers alike, as the development team at Farsight Studios has managed to perfectly recreate some of the more popular tables out there for digital play, including Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! and most recently, Funhouse and Bride of Pin-bot, which are coming to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network next month.


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 Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 came out for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network a couple of years ago, it answered the prayers of dedicated fans seeking a 2D fix of their favorite hero, in favor of the forgettable 3D endeavors.  But at the same time, it didn’t quite “feel” right, with game mechanics being just a little bit off and the level design not quite being as good as the classic Genesis games.  So the developers did some tinkering and have come back with Episode 2, a game that’s much closer in nature to those classics.  But is it the ultimate Sonic experience?  Sadly, it comes up just short, but in different areas than the first game.


How do you top one of the most creative games made over the last few years?  Well, you go back to the beginning and do another one, silly.  Kim Swift, the mastermind who helped put together Valve's Portal a few years back, is striking new ground with her latest project, the quirky puzzle/action game Quantum Conundrum. Despite its different approach, however, she's still putting quite the emphasis on being creative and having fun while you do it.  Plus, you get to throw around fluffy things!


First introduced at a Microsoft event in Tokyo a couple of years back, Crimson Dragon has been hidden in secrecy for some time, with Yukio Futatsuki, the creator of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon series, and his team toiling away on its spiritual successor for Xbox Live Arcade.  But recently, Microsoft provided us a hands-on opportunity with the upcoming release, giving us the ability to fly around with a dragon using body motions.  And you know what?  It’s not half bad.


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.


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.