The Maw was developed by Twisted Pixel Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released on January 21, 2009 for 800 Microsoft Points.
For fans of Xbox Live Arcade games Twisted Pixel Games is a household name. With titles like ‘Splosion Man, Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley and the forthcoming Ms. Splosion Man they’re a huge success story. But there was one title that started it all. One that was ridiculously cute with simple but fun puzzle elements: The Maw. In the game players take control of Frank, a cute bipedal alien who has been captured by bounty hunters. Shortly after being thrown into a cell on the bounty hunters’ vessel the craft crash lands on a strange planet. Frank and another escapee, The Maw, must find their way to freedom from the surviving bounty hunters bent on recapturing them.
Iron Brigade (Formerly Trenched) was developed by Double Fine Productions, published by Microsoft Games Studios and will be released on June 22nd, 2011 for 1200MSP. A copy of the game was provided to us for review purposes.
Double Fine has found great success so far with their downloadable titles. Costume Quest and Stacking were well received, critically and commercially. Each title has been unique in gameplay, setting and style. Trenched is no different, a mech-based tower defense game set in an alternate history with all the charm and character you’ve grown to expect.
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project was developed by 3D Realms and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released June 23, 2010 and retails for 800 MSP.
Just over a week ago, Duke Nukem Forever was released onto the world and while you may think that’s a sign of the apocalypse, we’re all still here. Duke’s brand of humor and violence has been seen in countless iterations in different genres from first and third person shooters to the classic side-scroller. Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project aims to return to the classic side-scrolling days and make sure the aliens pay. Duke must save the city of New York from imminent destruction from aliens and fight his way through levels ranging from Chinatown to the depths of space. Now this all sounds great and fun but you have to remember that this game originally came out in 2002. What was great eight years ago doesn’t always fly in today.
Sam & Max Save the World was developed and published by Telltale Games. It was released June 17, 2009 for 1600MSP.
Point and Click adventure games were extremely popular in the 90s, but fell to the wayside once console gaming became more popular than computer gaming. The genre sat barely noticed for many years, but a new episodic format envisioned by Telltale Games tried to change that. Sam & Max Save the World is a compilation of six of the Sam & Max episodes where the dog and rabbit duo, otherwise known as the freelance police, must solve a number of crimes connected to an overarching plot. Sam and Max reinvent the adventure genre in a game that rewards a good thought with a good laugh.
Triggerheart Exelica was developed by Warashi and retails for 800 MSP. It was released on February 27, 2008.
Shoot em’ up (shmup) fans are an interesting crew. Most of them are not interested in fresh gameplay mechanics but simply the hunt for a high score and notoriously difficult challenges. Triggerheart Exelica attempts to throw a new concept into the genre—a hook mechanic—but the draw for hardcore fans will continue to be an immeasurable difficulty level that has them perfecting their skills and memorizing bullet patterns. If Triggerheart Exelica were to be judged by its challenge level, it would exceed expectations, but upon extraction it simply lacks the bells and whistles of better titles in the genre.
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.
Portal: Still Alive was developed by Valve and published by Microsoft. Portal was released November 22, 2008 and cost 1200MSP.
In Portal you are a subject in a test study; not by choice. You are given a ‘portal gun’ and forced to defy the laws of physics in order to escape each test room. Equipped with just the ‘portal gun’ and your wits, it is your task to figure out how to avoid all the obstacles that stands in your way.
Exit was developed by Taito and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released on October 24, 2007 and retails for 800MSP.
The concept of Exit is simple. One man enters a burning building or otherwise hazardous area and leads unfortunate victims to an imminent rescue. The hero is described as being an “escapologist” which we can infer means he is good at escaping things. Its a good thing too, because fire, electricity, huge gaps, and other such dangers stand between him and victory.
The main gameplay revolves around managing resources like fire extinguishers and ladders and also using the different skills of the victims effectively. For example, the big fat character is strong and can move really heavy objects. The kid is small and can fit through small tunnels. You get the idea. The whole point is to direct certain people to do certain things or go somewhere while you do something else to accomplish whatever task is in front of you at the moment. If that sounds complicated that’s because it is, and the slow game speed and clumsy controls don’t help matters.
Bomberman Live: Battlefest was developed by Pi Studios and published by Hudson Soft. It was released on December 8, 2010 for 800 MSP.
The Bomberman franchise has been around for decades and at its core it hasn’t changed in the slightest. Tried and true is the name of the game here with solid mechanics and simple controls which build an explosive experience perfect for gaming with friends both casually and competitively. As Xbox Live Arcade and retail games get more and more intricate, Bomberman will remain stalwart as the sort of game that’s easy to pick up and play and allows the more casual to mix with the more competitive in relative ease.
In Bomberman Live: Battlefest players control a Bomberman in an arena filled with hard and soft blocks. The object of the classic battle mode is to drop bombs to blow up the enemy Bombermen. Soft blocks can be destroyed by bombs and give basic power ups that increase the length of the fire, the amount of placeable bombs, and player speed. There are also more complex powerups like the ability to punch a bomb three spaces, a special bomb with fire that passes through all the soft blocks in its range (instead of only hitting the first one), or a bomb placed in a rocket that blows up on impact. The premise is simple but there are many gametypes including capture the flag, bomb paint modes where players blow up bombs to claim squares, and the new bankroll mode where players buy powerups with gold before the match starts counter strike style. Team variants exist for most of the modes as well.
Here at XBLAFans it’s Rewind Review month for all of June. Every day this month, we will feature a new Rewind Review from one of our many staff writers. You can check back right here at this post each day for a link to our latest Rewind Review along with our current back catalog of Rewind Reviews from the past. If you’ve been holding back on some of the older XBLA titles because you weren’t quite sure if they were worth your hard earned money, make sure to check this post periodically and we might have a review for the game in question.