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Microsoft launches Game Room on XBLA

Mar 26, 2010

By John Powell & Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Good games never die, they just get reloaded.

Event Gallery

The good peeps at Microsoft have once again dug into the musty video game vault and rescued some of the coolest, nerdiest, most addictive games with their new Game Room addition to Xbox Live.

At the Game Room launch at the Pop nightclub in downtown Toronto, G4 pulled a Marty McFly, got behind the wheel of the DeLorean and along with guests Christopher Knight (Peter Brady, ‘Brady Bunch’) and Erin Grey (Colonel Wilma Deering, ‘Buck Rogers’) went back in time and got to try out Game Room and its features as well as some new Xbox Live Arcade titles.

Games Room itself is a new virtual platform on Xbox Live. A customizable arcade you can theme with free and paid items, Games Room is where you can buy, download, play vintage Atari, Konami and Intellivision titles and challenge your friends.

Microsoft is promising new games every week. The current titles include: Arcade: Centipede, Asteroids Deluxe, Tempest, Crystal Castles, Lunar Lander, Jungler, Road Fighter, Scramble, Finalizer, Tutankham, Shao-Lin's Road, Super Cobra, Red Baron, Gravitar, Battlantis, ATARI 2600: Star Raiders, Outlaw, Yar's Revenge, Millipede, Football, RealSports Tennis, Combat, INTELLIVISION: Astrosmash, Mountain Madness, Super Pro Skiing , Armor Battle, Space Hawk, Sub Hunt, Sea Battle and Space Armada.

The retro gaming craze is only getting more popular by the day so the whole Game Room strategy could be huge for Microsoft. A game like Pac-Man or Galaga is absolutely timeless, but it will be interesting to see if gamers will embrace the offers.

The virtual arcade idea is cool, but why have so many rooms to have to flip through and decorate? And why is each room separated by an annoying advertisement for future releases? Buying an old game for cheap to be played on your Xbox 360 or Windows-powered PC is a cool idea too, but what's the point in letting people buy single play tokens? Is anyone silly enough to actually do that?

Considering that Game Room is free - with two game packs available at no extra cost right off the bat - it's difficult to complain too much. No one's forcing you to buy any games ... and just wait till your favourite old game from Atari or Intellivision is released.

At the event, Microsoft also took the opportunity to showcase some of the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles including ‘Perfect Dark’, ‘Scrap Metal’ and ‘Toy Soldiers’.

Hand-in-hand with ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Perfect Dark’ was one of the prominent and definitive first person shooters. Now available on Xbox Live Arcade, the game holds true to the original and in some ways, even exceeds it. This is not just a revival but a full-blown resurrection. If you were a fan of the original, you will appreciate this update of Joanna Dark taking on those alien invaders.

Though it's a 2010 release, Scrap Metal's gameplay would fit in just right with other games in the 80's. It's a racer in the same vein as Super Sprint - you view your vehicle from the top down and race around courses, avoiding obstacles like oil slicks and boxes, while attempting to take out other cars.

Though it gets deeper with customization (more on that in a moment), this truly is a pick-up-and-play title in every way. You accelerate with the right trigger and control your vehicle with the left analog stick. That's it. Yes, you can shoot other players, boost using nitro pickups, and take out opponents with special weapons littered along the tracks, but depending on how good your reflexes are and how well you know the tracks, you may not have to worry about that extra stuff at all.

The handling is fantastic in the game, with lots of drifting going on at every turn. Vehicles react well to steering inputs with the analog stick and it's rare to end up backwards in front of a wall on the track. Gran Turismo this is not.

By winning races, you can earn points that allow you to upgrade and customize vehicles in your garage, making them faster, tougher and deadlier. It's isn't deep, but neither is the game itself - and that's a good thing.

Toy Soldiers’ premise is pretty basic - use your little soldiers to stop the enemy team from making it to your position. This beautiful-looking game is all about strategy - setting up things like barbed wire, artillery shells and machineguns to stop the other team from making it to your position.

Though Toy Soldiers is similar to a real-time strategy game, there is some first-person shooter action that takes place for those who like to take their enemies down while looking down the crosshairs of a gun. Once you have your weapons set up (they cost money so you have to really think about how much of what you want set up, and where), you can choose to have friendly AI use it, or to control it yourself.

Hopping behind a machine gun or looking through the scope of a sniper rifle is as satisfying as any good war shooter, but let's not forget taking men and horses alike out with a well-placed mortar. Keep in mind that this somewhat-family friendly title doesn't contain blood or gore. Though the biggest connection this game has to the 80's is the name (the soldiers don't even really look like toys - they look like real people!), it's still sure to be another solid entry on Xbox Live Arcade.

Official Games Room Site:


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About G4 in Canada
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