Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Xbox Live Arcade: The Ratings
I want to encourage everyone to download "Texas Hold'em" on Xbox Live Arcade ASAP. You can get it for free through Thursday. Save yourself 800 Microsoft Points ($10), its a good game.
I love Xbox Live Marketplace. I said it when the 360 came out and I'll say it again - pure genius. There are downloads for just about everything but the best part of Marketplace is Xbox Live Arcade. For an old school gamer like me, getting a chance to play some of my favorite arcade games on my new system is like stepping back in time. Its great!
There are currently 27 games available on Arcade with new games coming out every Wednesday. While that's quite a few, lets be honest, there are a lot of duds. While waiting for my beloved Cyberball and Paperboy (add the Konami classic Sunset Riders to my Wish List as well) to come out, I decided to try on a few Arcade games on for size. With some I just played the demo, others I bought outright. And just so you know, I have a built-in bias towards some of these games. There are a few titles on Arcade that turn me back into that kid I was in the early 80's. You know - feathered hair, Def Lepard shirt, Members Only jacket. As I always warn people: I'm a child of the 80's and I make no excuses for it. If you're not sure about a game, play the trial version. Its always free.
Texas Hold'em - Obviously this game wasn't around when I was a kid but I could care less because its so much fun. The single-player is fine and a nice way to kill some time but the multi-player is where it really shines. Chatting with people online as cards are dealt almost makes you feel like you're really in a casino. I kept looking around for a waitress to bring me a drink. Then my wife told me to get off my butt and get one myself.
Galaga - I love this game if only for sentimental reasons. This was one of the first arcade games I ever played (it came out in 1981 so I'm dating myself just a little). A bunch of my friends would play this after school for bragging rights. Its a very simple, straightforward game which is why its so much fun.
Frogger - When this game came out, I remember being incredibly disappointed that the box art looked so much better than the game itself. I'm still disappointed. The game was overrated when it came out and souped up graphics don't make it any better. After crossing the street a few times and getting splattered by a truck or drowning (which never made sense to me, I'm playing as a frog) the game gets old fast. Unless you're a diehard Frogger nut (and if you are, please tell me why) stay away from this game.
Cloning Clyde - This game is just flat out kooky and if you've read some of my reviews lately, you know I like kooky. Its like controlling a 3-D comic book character. Unlike most of these other Arcade games there is lots of character variety. The mult-player is pretty good as well.
Hexic HD - This game came free on my 360 and I'm glad it did. Its fun and really gives gamers an idea of what Arcade could offer when the console came out. Hexic is a lot like Tetris (which is no surprise as it was made by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov) and can be just as fun and challenging.
Grade: A (because its fun and free)
Street Fighter II - Very enjoyable game. I really like the Quarter Match feature that lets you continue if you get beat, just like in the arcade. I had a lot of fun kicking my son's butt in this game (I played as Chun Li and he had no chance). Single-player mode is fairly tough and multi-player is just brutal. Those guys know what their doing. If you're interesting in getting SF: Anthology, save $10 and get this instead.
Joust - I just never got into this game. A flying ostrich with a knight holding a lance riding on him? I'll pass.
Gauntlet - Oooh yeah! No we're talking! Suddenly I'm back in my Dungeons and Dragons loving elementary school days. Hanging out with my buds and arguing over who has to be Valkyrie (the girl). The memorable announcer ("I've not seen such bravery" and "Wizard needs food badly") is back. Great game to play with a group of friends.
Geometry Wars - Whenever I play this game I feel like a little kid staring at a Fourth of July celebration - Oooh! Pretty colors! Fun game play, great graphics and sound but a little repetitive.
Pac-Man - Is there a more well known arcade game than this one? I doubt it. The Xbox Live Arcade version looks pretty good and plays fine but the controls are a little stiff. Back in the day gamers would play with a stick that was much looser and Pac was a little more nimble. The newer version feels like the old fella has gained a few pounds. Which he probably has since Pac-Man was in every Pizza Hut I ever went into during the 1980's. Still, he is the king of arcade games and is worth $5.
Mailbag - Just a quick reminder that I'm accepting Mailbag entries (don't worry Reader John, you're safe so far) until this Friday at 6pm.