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The List's 4 surefire Xbox Live Arcade games
February 06, 2008
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
It seems as if Microsoft is looking to make a big push in 2008 with its list of downloadable Xbox Live Arcade games. While there were few originals and a short list of truly classic oldies in its first two years of existence, this year already has some great new titles available, and one classic in particular looks to highlight things in the coming weeks.
G4 TechTV Canada had a chance to sit down with a a number of newly- or soon-to-be-released Xbox Live Arcade games recently and came away so thoroughly impressed, we had to list 'em all off for you. Here are four games that are sure to be hits in 2008:
Boogie Bunnies (800 Microsoft Points) - okay, so the game sounds cutesy and looks the part all the same. Nonetheless, I found myself glancing over repeatedly at the game while at the Xbox Live Arcade event. I finally had a chance to play this puzzle game at the end of the night and I easily could have gone on for much longer if it wasn't for that plate of cookies I spied from across the room. The game plays like any match-3 game you've ever come across (ie. Dr. Mario, Zookeeper, Bejeweled), but in Boogie Bunnies, you can make combinations from the bottom of the screen, or travel to the left and right as well. It adds a lot of strategy when you add a second person to the mix in co-operative play. You can't hop (pun intended) past the other player, so if you're on his or her right, but need to reach a critical colour combo on the far left, it's up to you to yell at your partner to get moving in that direction! If you're a fan of ANY of the aforementioned puzzle games, you'll be sure to love this one.
Ikaruga (800 Microsoft Points) - easily one of the best, most-overlooked games in the last decade, Ikaruga is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest top-down shooters ever made. The premise and control scheme is utterly simple, but the game itself is anything but. You control a ship that can be either black or white (you switch using the B-button), and attack enemies that are also either black or white. The rules are: you can absorb same-coloured shots (black ship can absorb black shots and vice versa), your weapon will do more damage when it is matched up to the colour of the enemy you're shooting, and like any good, challenging shooter, touching any ship or piece of the environment results in instant death. It may not sound too tough but once you see just how many different-coloured shots can fill the screen at once, you'll instantly understand. Ikaruga started out on Dreamcast, moved to the GameCube, and Xbox 360 fans should now consider themselves very lucky that they have the privelege of being able to download this game. It features online and local co-operative play, and everything has been faithfully restored from the original version. It's only five levels long, but you'll be hard-pressed to master this game.
Omega Five (800 Microsoft Points) - another shooter, but this time, it's a side-scroller featuring some simply awesome graphics and addictive gameplay. If you've ever played Geometry Wars Evolved, you'll instantly be at home with the control scheme. You move your character up, down, left or right with the left analog stick, while moving the right analog stick causes you to shoot your gun in whatever direction the stick is pointed. It still feels very different from Geometry Wars, though, because it's not quite as fast as that game. I'm not saying it's worse - it's stimply different. It's still a fun, hectic, nerve-testing shooter, but it takes a different type of player to be very good at the game. You have to memorize where enemies are coming from and make sure you're ready for them, both in terms of screen position and where your gun is pointed. This game also features online and local co-op play.
N+ - yet another absolutely stunning game for XBLA, and not because of fancy-schmancy graphics or a big-name developer. In fact, the game is the work of a small independent developer called Metanet, which is really two people (Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard) based out of Toronto, Ontario. It was originally known simply as 'N', and is still available as a free download on Metanet's official website. The game has of course received some upgrades for when it appears on Xbox Live Arcade, but the essence of the game remains the same. You play as a ninja (and the game is very Ninja Gaiden-like with all the wall-jumping you do) who has to traverse single-screen levels by simply opening a door and walking through it. The challenge lies in all the booby traps that await you throughout each level. Mines, lasers and gravity can and do play a big part when you die. The game looks simple but is wildly addictive because there's always something new thrown at you every few levels. Do yourself a favour and download the original on your Mac or PC. If you like it (and we're betting you will), don't hesitate to download the new version on Xbox Live Arcade when it's released. You won't regret it.
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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.