Posts Tagged ‘Xbox Live Arcade’

So my experience with The Walking Dead has mainly been with the television series on AMC. I know that the series is based on the comic book series, but I really don’t read comics. As for zombies, well my experience with them dates back to when I was a young zombie slayer through my ever expanding imagination from reading books and watching movies. Yes, I had cool parents who let me watch¬†Rated “R” movies. Currently, I get my zombie fix from the first two seasons of the television series on Blu-ray, but when I learned that The Walking Dead (based on the comic books) was coming to Xbox 360 I really got excited. Then there was the part where I found out that¬†there¬†were five episodes with one releasing each month. I thought that sucked, because I’m sure the anticipation to see what happens next drove everyone crazy. Well I decided to wait until all five episodes were available so I can just play them all without the agonizing wait in between. Well let me tell you that the long wait was worth every minute.

PROS:

Lee Everett
From a convicted felon to a near father figure for young Clementine, my experience playing as main protagonist Lee Everett was amazing. Probably the best character I’ve ever played due to the fact that all his actions and decisions were based on my choices. Like a choose your own adventure book, I helped shape what Lee would eventually become, and I’m quite satisfied with the results whether I wanted to be somewhat of a good man or a complete asshole and not give a shit. This is the zombie apocalypse by the way. Making friends, along with trusting others, can be a little tough especially considering that I’m taking care of a little girl who just wants to get back to her family.

For Clementine
Other than Lee, Clementine plays such a key role in the actions I chose to partake in. She may be a little girl that I’m protecting, but when you think about it she can also be quite impressionable. Killing the “Walkers” or even certain people can come at a price especially if Clementine is around when it happens. For example: I took a hammer and beat the former babysitter’s head in a few times and Clementine watched in horror as it happened. The screen said that she will remember it. This sort of had me second guessing about how I choose to kill, because I surely didn’t want to scar her for life. Then again it is the zombie apocalypse right? For me it was all about keeping Clementine alive, and I did just that through my adventure.

The Story And Overall Atmosphere
I really liked the point and click style of storytelling that Telltale Games uses. Coming from some of their previous games I played including Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures and Sam and Max Save the World, The Walking Dead was more of a shock to me. I never thought I’d see¬†Telltale¬†make a game on a more “mature” angle, but they pulled it off perfectly. Sure the graphics¬†may resemble something on the lines of a Saturday morning cartoon, but the game’s theme is far from it especially with moments where I blew a cop’s head off with a shotgun, and watching Walkers devour people piece by piece. The best part is that Telltale Games kept to the series’ dark-sided roots. I also liked how they incorporated new characters to the series like they were always there as well as seeing a few regulars along for the ride including Hershel Greene and Glenn.

Decisions, Decisions
What makes this game so unique is the tough decisions I had to make. Who do I choose to align myself with? This determines how characters reacted to me. The most important decision was the tough choice deciding on who lives and who dies? That decision alone shapes the overall course of the game. I always wondered whether I was making the right choices, because I could really feel the weight of the decision and the pain that Lee Everett suffers through. Later on, when an episode ends, I get to see a board with the overall community’s decisions just to see if other people agreed with me. Now I wonder what happens if I went in the other direction. I smell replay value.

CONS:

Easy Achievements
I’m really disappointed with the overall easiness of earning achievements in this game. Just completing each episode gave me all the available achievements. Sure the achievement whore in me is quite happy as I add another game to the completion list, but I what I really wanted was some sort of extra challenge on some of the achievements making that “Achievement Unlocked” tone more worthy of attaining. Hopefully Telltale Games works on that for Season 2.

The Long Wait For Season 2
I now understand the anticipation that gamers had when anxiously awaiting new episodes every month. I waited for five months just to get all the episodes, and now I have to wait even longer for the next season to come along just to see where the story goes next. I feel your pain everyone, because waiting sucks.

IN CONCLUSION

Sure it’s a point and click game, but The Walking Dead feels like it’s so much more. Left 4 Dead it is not. The Walking Dead is a game filled with amazing storytelling, character development, intense drama, and tough decision making. Basically what this boils down to is an amazing experience that should not be missed by anyone. I enjoyed my time with this game and I plan on revisiting the drama and horror again and again. The Walking Dead is a definite must buy for any fan of the series whether it’s the comic books or the television series. Maybe it’s time for me to read those comic books as well.

Developer: Telltale Games
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1
Price: 2000 Microsoft Points ($25.00)

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Originally released back in 1983, Dragon’s Lair has been ported to every video game console, PC, and multimedia platform known to man. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 years then you should know what this game is. The story of Dirk the Daring who’s out to save the lovely princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe. Despite it’s ancient age (in gaming years) Dragon’s Lair still has that nostalgic fever that fans, including myself, crave. I’ve always wanted to play Dragon’s Lair since seeing the¬†attract screen¬†play over and over in the arcades as a kid, but¬†I didn’t want to spend one dollar a credit just to have my ass handed to me because I didn’t know what to do. Over the years I got over that fear and I’ve played the game having lots of fun I the process. Now it’s arrived on Xbox Live Arcade and I couldn’t wait to go on the nostalgic adventure once again.

Dragon’s Lair on Xbox Live Arcade can be played in two ways. Obviously one way is to use the controller. The other is the way is how the game is advertised…with Kinect. Now I had my reservations on seeing how Dragon’s Lair would hold up by utilizing the Kinect. So I played the games using both peripherals. Of course, there’s also the option of watching the whole ten minutes of animation as a movie, but why would I want to do that? I paid for the game to interact with it and not just watch it.


Now if I had to choose what way to play Dragon’s Lair on the Xbox 360 I would have to go with the controller. I found it more comfortable for me to use as I would move through each quick time event with the D-pad for movements and the A button for the sword. While I may have chosen the controller let me assure you that the Kinect is no slouch. Playing this game with Kinect sure is a workout as I put up a sweat from jumping around and flailing my arm. There is also a few moments where the Kinect camera would take pictures of my actions. Both ways are fun, but I have to mention that the game’s achievements really cater more towards using the controller. Speaking of achievements, you might notice that they mostly center around you dying which is something you’ll be doing a lot of in this game unless your really good at it in Hard mode.

The game may be too old to most, but Dragon’s Lair is a treasure that everyone will love. It definitely fits as a break between shooters, or for those who use the Kinect for other reasons like dancing and exercise programs. I had a lot of fun as¬†I felt that nostalgic rush, and plan to play it again and again just to beat my high score. Don Bluth’s cartoony adventure is a classic, and it’s safe to assume that more could possibly be on the way with Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp and Space Ace. Alright, enough talking…my quest awaits.

Publisher: Digital Leisure
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1-2
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

Let’s see. How many Sonic games do I have now on my Xbox 360? Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic CD, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, Sonic Generations, and Sonic 4: Episode 1 (I also have it on my iPad). Man that’s a lot of Sonic games. It’s safe to assume that I’m a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan. I’ve only been playing the games since Sonic 1’s original release on the Sega Genesis. The blue blur sure is fun to have around. Now Sonic is back with a whole new adventure and this time he’s not alone.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2, from Sega, brings back a familiar face (other than Sonic) to the 2D platformer. That’s right…it’s Tails. In a way, Episode 2 feels like I’m playing Sonic 2 all over again¬†except without the cool Chemical Plant Zone (I still can’t get that tune out of my head. It’s catchy). Four brand new yet familiar zones to blast process¬†my way through and it’s fun. Sega even brought back the special stages reminiscent of Sonic 2 which held both excitement (getting the Chaos Emerald) and frustration (when Tails hit¬†those damn bombs causing me to lose rings and lose a chance at a Chaos Emerald) at the same time. The one thing I really got a kick out of is the team up moves where Sonic and Tails would do a mid air high five and then work together to get out of a tough situation that could possibly involve dying. Let’s also not forget the bonus Episode Metal content starring Metal Sonic (you must have Episode 1 for that to work).


After playing the game last night, as well as¬†acquiring¬†a few achievements, the big question I had was “Why are all the reviewers trashing this game?” Sure it’s not perfect in any way, but it is a big improvement over Episode 1. I felt like Sonic was a bit faster in this version, the graphics are well improved,¬†and the Tails team up moves bring a fresh change of pace to the game as well. However, I will agree with some of the reviewers in terms of how the invincibility power-ups are in locations where there are not any enemies to take down. I also agree about the boss battle music that seems to be on an endless loop every few seconds which gets quite annoying. Where’s Amy’s hammer when you need it most? Speaking of boss battles, these were some tough fights that require a bit of trial and error¬†to get through on the first time, but become much easier each time you play it.

Clearly Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is no Sonic Generations, but it is better than the Sonic the Hedgehog game released on the Xbox 360¬†in 2006. I’m still trying to forget that one. It’s a blast from the past, and it allows us to enjoy playing¬†a Sonic¬†game the way it was meant to be played…in 2D! What more can you ask for? Well, maybe Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 3 with Knuckles?

Publisher: Sega
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1 to 2 (Local or Xbox Live co-op)
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00)

Pros:
Beautiful Hand Drawn Visuals
The Smooth Talking Narrator

Cons:
Game difficulty gets really easy in later levels.

Imagine yourself awakening to a world destroyed. Everything that you know is gone. Now you must find a way to put it all back together once again. That’s the whole idea behind Bastion on Xbox Live Arcade. It’s an amazing action role-playing adventure that will have you hacking, slashing and collecting all to the sound of a smooth talking narrator.

Bastion, from Supergiant Games, has a different feel then most of your typical games in the genre. The heroic antagonist simply known as “The Kid” is out to rebuild his world that has been destroyed by the Calamity. When I mention “rebuild” I really mean it, because the world literally builds itself right under your feet as you move through each area destroying enemies as well as other objects. Your doing all of this while a smooth jive talking narrator comments on the play-by-play action.

When you start playing Bastion the first thing your going to notice is how amazing the graphics look. The world in Bastion is beautiful. The water painted hand drawn visuals used in the backgrounds are nothing short of absolutely amazing and show a clear sense of depth. The up close graphics are also full of color giving the game life as it builds up around you.

Not only are the graphics out of this world, the in-game narrator will blow your mind as well. The narrator has this smooth talking attitude about him that really fits in with all the action on screen. His narration ranges from the typical seriousness of the storyline to a sarcastic point which will lead to a laugh or two especially if your hacking objects for awhile for loot or you fall off the edge. Clearly this narrator has a voice that would fit on any R&B show, or at least open mike night at the local coffee shop.

OK, enough of the audio/video goodness. Let’s get to the gameplay. Bastion is nothing more than your typical hack-n-slash game. The controls are very simplistic for anyone to pick up and play. You’ll have two buttons mapped out for weapons (one melee and one ranged), the left trigger allows you to use a shield and the right trigger is for special abilities. Unlike other RPGs that allow you to carry multiple items, here in Bastion you can only carry one of each type. You’ll find many weapons across your journey, but when you choose one of these weapons or special abilities it will replace your current one in your inventory so make sure you choose wisely.

While Bastion fits under the role of RPG, the game is also more than just leveling up. Remember that your trying to rebuild your world. The game’s central hub known as “The Bastion” is the place to really build your character. Success on levels will gives you access to their cores. These cores allow you to build shops in The Bastion. Here you can improve your weapons, upgrade your character, gain new abilities and so much more. There’s so much to do in The Bastion that your going to spend a lot of time there.

The time you spend in the world of Bastion contains more that just the campaign. There’s also the Proving Grounds which will test your skills as well as give you helpful prizes to use during the game. There’s also Who Knows Where which are challenging survival missions. Finally, those of you lucky enough the finish the game will find a second adventure which allows you take along all your unlocks for the ride. The only bad part about this is the fact that it makes your next adventure really easy to complete which will have you saying “Where’s the challenge?” In the end, you won’t really care, because this game will really take you in so get ready for the ride.

Bastion is another type of game that exemplifies what Xbox Live Arcade is all about. Congrats to Supergiant Games for delivering a game with an epic adventure, excellent customization and tons of replay value past the first playthrough. I highly recommend everyone to download Bastion today.

Pros:
Excellent Platforming Gameplay
A Wide Variety Of Game Modes With Endless Replay Value
Full Of Witty Humor From Beginning To End

Cons:
Levels Can Be Frustrating At Times

It was only a couple of years ago at E3 where I met Michael Wilford of Twisted Pixel and he showed me a game simply called ‘Splosion Man. A game featuring a chaotic off the wall character who splodes everywhere causing destruction, humor, and a surplus of meat from dead scientists. ‘Splosion Man was platforming excellence that made me reminisce about games like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic The Hedgehog. Now in 2011, Twisted Pixel brings us a sequel to the sploding XBLA hit. Here comes Ms. ‘Splosion Man!

Ms. ‘Splosion Man. My first thought that came to mind was “Twisted Pixel has brought us the Ms. Pac-Man of the ‘Splosion Man universe.” Then there was “It’s ‘Splosion Man, but with boobs!” Last week, Twisted Pixel sent me a review code as well as a nice package of steaks to try out the new game. Of course you don’t need to use steaks to get my attention for a review, but it sure does beat donuts. As I played the new game my thoughts of Ms. ‘Splosion Man went to “She’s pink, got boobs, and this game is awesome!”

So here’s the skinny on Ms. ‘Splosion Man. News today is that the scientists are celebrating a big victory after capturing the infamous ‘Splosion Man. During the party things go wrong and a new ‘Splosion Man ends up becoming created. This time with a more feminine touch and a mouth only a “valley girl” would love. Sadly for all the scientists they realize what’s going to happen next. Chaos and steaks galore! For the rest of us we get awesome platforming action that rivals, or better yet, surpasses the original ‘Splosion Man.

More than just platforming, Ms. ‘Splosion Man will literally have you bouncing off walls, hang on rails, and a little puzzle solving all in the name of saving the “male in distress.” You’ll also get some boss battles tossed in including a familiar foe from the first game. Also make sure you check out the tutorial which has some really hilarious moments as you learn how to play and not do what Debbie does. Like ‘Splosion Man before it, this game will provide quite a challenge so expect a bit of trial and error early on. Fail to many times and the game will give you an option called “Cheat on the Game.” This will allow you to skip checkpoints, but it also comes at a price…or rather yet a curse that even Sir Mix-A-Lot would love! By the way, you may also want to keep an eye out for some hidden shoes because this ‘Splosion Man loves shoes just as much as our previous hero loves “Cake!”

Twisted Pixel’s games have always been known for their humor and Ms. ‘Splosion Man is no different. Our heroine not only has a “valley girl” tongue and a love for shoes, but also loves quoting popular songs from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, and so much more. You’ll also catch some great moments of pop culture from Total Recall, Predator, The Jetsons, George Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banners, and even the theme song from the ’80s TV show Dallas. There’s so much more to see and here, but I don’t want to spoil all of it so make sure you pay very close attention to detail.

Now Ms. Splosion Man offers more than just sploding on the single-player level. The game also features plenty of multiplayer action where you and your friends can work together to stop those evil scientists. Multiplayer on the original ‘Splosion Man was a blast and this game is no different. I played for hours in multiplayer and the action is nonstop and the fun is aplenty. My partners and I coordinated our splodes to make our way through each challenging level as well as share a few WTF moments when we both screwed up. Each session was for the most point lag free which is a big plus. The only problem you could have is a player who acts like a Debbie (remember the tutorial video).

Ms. ‘Splosion Man also features every woman’s favorite place…The Mall! Here you’ll find plenty of shopping goodness with the coins you earn during the game. Unlock art, music, videos, and so much more. By the way check out “2 Girls 1 Controller” which is a spin directly out of 2 Girls 1 Cup except without all the disgusting details. This gameplay mode is very challenging, but a great experience as you control both Ms. ‘Splosion Mans (Sarah and Debbie)¬†with the same controller. Keep an eye out in the near future in the arcade where you’ll get to check out another cool goodie…Pinball FX 2 which will feature a new Ms. ‘Splosion Man themed table.

Ms. ‘Splosion Man clearly has plenty of bang for the buck. You get a great single-player and multiplayer campaign chock full of replay value that will have you coming back for more even after the initial playthrough. It’s more than just a game. It’s an experience that should not be missed filled with sploding and well timed humor. ‘Splosion Man fans already know this is a must buy. Then again Ms. ‘Splosion Man is a must buy Xbox Live Arcade game for all!

– A special thank you goes out to the gang at Twisted Pixel and Omaha Steaks for providing me with a review code as well as some delicious filet mignons. Thanks guys! BH

Pros:
Fun game with lots of shooting action
Focus Fire a welcome feature

Cons:
Game feels a little too easy compared to previous Galaga Legions

Galaga Legions is just like what Pac-Man Championship Edition is…an updated version of the classic original. While Pac-Man’s updated look felt like more of the same the idea behind Galaga felt like a re-imagining of the wheel. Galaga Legions was a tough game where memorization became key as wave after wave of enemies would literally fill the screen making you run for your life trying to avoid certain death. With the release of Galaga Legions DX, the concept is the same however the technique of shooting has gone through a big change.

Like any previous Galaga game the idea is to shoot down all enemies on the screen then wash, rinse and repeat the same thing over and over again. As a retro gamer, I found Galaga a fun game to challenge my high scores against friends and strangers alike. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge. Then many years later Galaga Legions came along and after playing a few rounds the one thing that went through my mind was “man this game is a pain in the ass.” At times I got so frustrated that I would throw my controller down and have fits of rage. All this memorization was really screwing with my head. Eventually after awhile I got over it and life went on, but how would I respond to the new DX title. Well that answer is with much happiness and joy.

Galaga Legions DX is still the same concept as the original Legions game except this time it focuses in on more of a time based attack scheme. Each of the game’s nine areas features five levels of intense shooter action. There’s also a Championship Mode with only five levels. Each of these modes are based on the same idea of getting the highest score possible while completing each level in the shortest amount of time. Speaking of time there’s also a Time Attack Mode which is based on how quickly you dispose of your enemies on each level. Throughout this whole process your being graded on your skills all which are based on points scored. Sounds pretty simple right? Well it really is.

Just like Galaga Legions the use of satellites also play a key role in your fight to survive. In this version however, your satellites stick close to home. Instead of placing satellites in different locations while you run away, each satellite stays with you and all you do is move the right thumbstick to aim and fire. This now makes Galaga Legions DX into a twin-stick shooter which to my account is a fairly common genre on Xbox Live Arcade. Your shots also come in two varieties: direct for a more frontal attack and spread to cover your left and right sides. Capturing enemy ships (which happens at level five of each area) also plays a big role especially when you need to clear larger waves of enemies and also offers that little extra protection when space starts getting a little tight in the corners.

While Galaga Legions DX sounds like good fun for all shmup fans out there let me also address a couple of issues keeping from being a great title. One has to be the difficulty. Even on the hardest difficulty, I found Galaga Legions DX a little too easy with the Focus Fire feature which could be a downer to the hardcore shmup players as they’ll think that the game is “dumbed down.” To others I think they will find this a welcome addition making it more “friendly” to the casual gamer or die-hard Galaga fan. In the end you can’t please everyone. I also have to comment on the whole timer aspect. The original game didn’t have this which made working your way through each level more of a challenge. This is why you have a Time Attack mode. THe main game didn’t need this as well.

If your a Galaga fan then you’ll feel right at home with Galaga Legions DX. Sure it may be a bit simpler in the difficulty department, but it doesn’t really hurt the game as much because you’ll be playing it over and over just to beat that high score. Since it’s also the 30th anniversary of the game you’ll also notice that you can change the enemies to look like the classic arcade games Galaga, Galaxian, and Galpus, or just stick with the current look. Overall, Galaga Legions DX is a lot of fun to play and a definite recommend to shmup fans.

Pros:
Great Mech Gameplay
Solid Tower Defense Mechanics
Excellent Co-op Multiplayer

Cons:
Environments are a little plain

Mech games…you don’t see a lot of them lately and they are usually the love them or hate them variety. It feels like forever since my last mech game I enjoyed playing. That game would be Mech Assault on the original Xbox. Yes, the hours of fun I had with my badass mech wiping out the puny enemy forces thinking they can take me head on. Then there was the online play when Xbox Live was just an infant. Ahhh…memories. Now after many years my mech love has returned with Trenched, but this game is more than just mech action. Trenched has got depth and it’s a whole lotta fun.

Iron Brigade (formerly known as Trenched), available now on Xbox Live Arcade¬†from the good folks at Double Fine, tells the tale of two World War I vets, Frank Woodruff and Vladamir Farnsworth, who gain super-intelligence after survivng an attack from “The Broadcast.” Frank, a disabled vet, uses his knowledge to create walking mechs called trenches which gave other disabled vets the opportunity to walk again. What a good guy. Vladimir, on the other hand, had a different plan. He created Monovision allowing people to see the world from their homes. Unfortunately for Vlad, he goes insane and for some strange reason decides to go on a crusade for world domination. Now it’s up to Frank’s mobile trenches to save the world from it’s greatest threat…television.

Right from the beginning of the game, you’ll realize that¬†Iron¬†Brigade¬†is more than just your typical shooter. It also infuses tower defense mechanics for a game that will keep you busy for a long time especially when it comes to strategy. Now when it comes to tower defense games I can tell you that I’m still learning my way around the genre, although I have enjoyed quite a few titles in the last couple of years including Defense Grid, South Park, and Sol Survivor. In a way¬†Iron Brigade¬†reminds me of the hit game Monday Night Combat…minus the bacon.

Like all tower defense games, each action packed level in¬†Iron Brigade¬†plays out in waves as you use your mechs to take out Vlad’s creations known as “tubes.” These tubes are more than just your typical ground variety of grunts. They’ll attack in all directions from the ground, in the air, and they’ll even shoot you. Your mission is to defend a specific location from the tubes at all costs. Now you can’t do all of this yourself so you’ll need tower defense emplacements to help deal the damage making your job just a little easier. As you take out enemies, you’ll pick up scrap (which look like TVs) that you can use for buying emplacements to call into battle. Each emplacement serves a specific purpose so make sure you choose wisely or else it’s back to the drawing board. With that in mind you now realize that with¬†Iron Brigade¬†strategy plays a key role in your survival making this more important than being a big dumb action hero.

Speaking of strategy, it’s not just what you do on the battlefield, but also how you prepare for the battle as well. Just remember GI Joe? “Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.” Your enter strategy all takes place at a central hub on an aircraft carrier where you’ll learn about missions as well as prepare your mech for battle. Your mech is 100% customizable as you set what chassis, weapons and emplacements you want to use. All of this is available in the store where you put your hard earned money (earned in battle) to work for victory or maybe just change the way your character looks. Either way customization is fun and gives¬†Iron Brigade¬†limitless possibilites in what you can do.

The best part of¬†Iron Brigade¬†is that the battle doesn’t have to be won alone. That’s right soldiers, there’s no shame in asking for a little assistance. You along with up to three friends (or complete strangers if that suits your fancy) can play in co-op multiplayer. Sorry folks, there’s no mech vs mech combat in this arena. Here you must work together to stop Vlad’s tubes. If a temmate’s trench goes down head on over to revive them so they can rejoin the battle. Also all scrap you collect is spread out evenly so that nobody has a bigger advantage. Playing in multiplayer is a real treat, but make sure you have your headsets on for this because teamwork leads to mission success. The time I spent playing this in multiplayer was fun no matter who I was with. We all talked strategy as well as customizing our mechs for the mission. A good tip is to stick together early and once a wave is complete, spread out and place towers. Once a new wave begins I suggest clustering up again which will lead to happy times.

Iron Brigade is the kind of game that will keep you busy for hours even after completing the main campaign. Endless ustomization and co-op teamwork over Xbox Live will keep you coming back for more. Overall, Iron Brigade is just another shining example of Xbox Live Arcade greatness. I highly recommend downloading this game today!