Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax was developed by Marvelous Entertainment, Inc. and Opus Studios, Inc., and retails for 800 MSP.
Half-Minute Hero arrives on XBLA after enjoying substantial success on the PSP. The game is what its name implies, more or less: a traditional Japanese RPG style hero, who saves the world in 30 seconds, give or take a reset from the Time Goddess, over and over again.
For the most part the game works like this: hero appears in an area, an evil lord announces that he will cast the spell of destruction, which will destroy the world. The spell takes 30 seconds to complete. A timer appears at the top of the page and our hero must rocket into action. Thanks to the Goddess, the timer can be paused while in towns or reset if enough cash is on hand (the goddess has to make a living, after all). In the time allotted, the player must advance to a level at which they can beat the local evil lord, and possibly solve a side quest or two.
Age of Booty was developed by Certain Affinity. It was released October 15, 2008, and retails for 400 MSP.
Every once in a long while, a game comes from out of nowhere and surprises with such a vengeance that folks who play it can’t help but recommend the game to everyone they know. They play the game incessantly, altering strategic calculations, building a list of friends to play with, trading grudge matches against rivals and friendly competitions with friends. They marvel at how damn good that game is.
Age of Booty is one of these games. Sitting on the dusting e-shelves of the XBLA library, Age of Booty is not a title that most players would stumble upon and think “I bet this is a great game.” The graphics are rudimentary by today’s standards, the theme seems a bit cartoonish, and for those who have the patience or curiosity to test the demo and who try anything beyond the single player campaign, they may quickly find themselves sailing into battle without any bearings, and end up switching to a different game.
This is a mistake, but an understandable one.
The original Duels of the Planeswalkers was perhaps the best bad game one could play on XBLA. It launched with numerous bugs, many of which remain unfixed today. A small number of cards didn’t work as described in their text, it was inordinately difficult to arrange blocking if there were too many attackers, and certain design decisions crippled the strategic calculus normally found in a Magic game. And in many ways the first Duels game played like a giant teaser advertisement for the rest of the Magic universe, rather than as a game whole and complete unto itself. It was still hugely fun to play, because Magic is a fun game with great art and clever mechanics, but the game lacked a certain richness, that attention to detail and the player experience that marks a great game.
Thank Wizards and Stainless, then, for making the bold decision to leave behind the old game, warts and all, and concentrate on creating the game that the first Duels could have been. The new Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 addresses many of the complaints about the first Duels, providing a smoother, faster game experience, a cleaner UI, vastly improved deck editing, a variety of online cooperative play formats, and a generally richer, better game experience.
Avatars Don’t Bleed was developed by SoGameSoftware and retails for 80 Microsoft Points.
Drawing upon the mechanics and minimalism of games like N+ and the floaty physics of Super Meat Boy, Avatars Don’t Bleed is a running, jumping, wall-clinging, avoid spike-based-deathing platformer. As with a growing number of solid XBLIG titles, Avatars Don’t Bleed features the player’s avatar as the main star of the action, and for only 80 Microsoft points. For fans of the genre, it would appear that Avatars Don’t Bleed should be a no-brainer of a purchase. Alas, appearances often find themselves impaled, repeatedly, on the sharp spike walls of reality.
The next iteration of Duels of the Planeswalkers, dubbed Duels 2012, will see significant improvements over its 2009 predecessor. The most significant change was officially announced yesterday on the game’s community boards, thanks to a post from Community Manager WotC_Microbless, who confirmed that the new game would have the ability to remove cards from the core 60 card deck and replace them with cards unlocked as rewards for playing the game. As a result, players will be able to customize their decks in new and exciting ways.