If you read XBLA Fans with any regularity — or even any irregularity, for that matter — then you’ve probably noticed something about us: we cover indie games. A lot. …
Contrast is developed and published by Compulsion Games. It was released on Xbox One for $14.99 on June 6, 2014. It is also available on Xbox 360 for $14.99. An Xbox One copy was provided for review purposes.
A shadow is the absence of light behind an object. Shadows know nothing else besides darkness and only exist in attachment to another. Shadows emit fear, mystery, the unknown. A shadow adds another layer to an object, a person. Often over sought, we often only view what’s on the surface, we don’t think twice. What’s on the surface is rather accordingly never as it seems, yet a shadow can show exactly what it seems. The warping of light and spacetime; the peeling back of our layered complexities; and questioning of what is reality are all captured by the beautiful artistry of Contrast.
Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, Contrast tells the story of a young girl, Didi, as she sets out upon the nocturnal Parisian streets to bring her family back together. Her mother works late nights at the gentleman’s club, and her father is deep in debt with the gangs. Didi just want to have one happy family again. Tagging along is her shadowy companion Dawn, who uses her mysterious powers to warp into the shadows and complete complicated platforming puzzles based upon the manipulation of light and shadows cast on the walls. Thus, the game becomes an existential experience that comments on family, science and emotion.
Did you know that video game music helps the brain by providing a stimulating background that doesn’t interfere with concentration? OK, I can’t prove that. I have no scientific evidence to back it up, but for some games, it seems like it just has to be true.
Xbox Live Arcade is home to some amazing games with some equally amazing music. Composers often sink days, months or even years into crafting the best musical experience for players – dedication that likely goes unnoticed, which sometimes is the whole point.
Sometimes, the best game music can serve as a stimulating background while studying, writing, reading or just doing some housework. Sometimes, you don’t want to notice the music or have it break your concentration. With that in mind, here are the top 10 XBLA soundtracks that serve as the best music to read, study, write or work to.
Any time a new game console is revealed, the spotlight is invariably turned toward the biggest and loudest AAA-caliber games that will accompany the console at launch and beyond. Last month’s release of the Xbox One was no exception. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Dead Rising 3, and Battlefield 4 have taken top billing in conversations about Microsoft’s new console. However, we shouldn’t forget the many great indie developers that have helped to make the Xbox Live Marketplace the veritable treasure trove it’s become.
A strong precedent
The last console generation, the Xbox 360, was home to some truly great indie games, including Cthulhu Saves the World, Escape Goat, Braid> and Limbo. These aren’t necessarily Xbox exclusives, but the fact that they call the Xbox 360 home has been an encouraging sign that Microsoft will continue courting indie game developers on the Xbox One. Even so, public opinion seems to favor Sony’s PlayStation 4 as the best console for indie developers. Given that, what can Microsoft do to win back the love of indies? It may already be on the right track.
Xbox Live Arcade began its life on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 simply enough. When eager gamers bought up Xbox 360s on launch day (November 22, 2005), they found a free copy of Hexic HD pre-loaded on their hard drives. Of course, it was another launch title that secured the platform’s success. Bizarre’s Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved both gave birth to the twin-stick shooter craze and demanded gamers take Xbox Live Arcade, which started in disc form back on the original Xbox, seriously as a digital games platform. Bizarre’s side project paved the way for the enormous variety of retro revivals, HD remakes, original indie projects, major studio releases, free-to-play games and more that have come to call XBLA home in the years since.
Today, we’re approximately one month away from the launch of the Xbox One, which will signal the end of XBLA as we have come to know it these past eight years. While Microsoft’s Xbox line will continue to be home to myriad low-cost downloadable video games, the XBLA moniker will not make the transition to Xbox One. It’s going down with the figurative (and literal) Xbox 360 boat. So what better time than now to count down the best XBLA games to ever grace the Xbox 360?
It wasn’t easy, but our staff has sorted through all of the best XBLA releases over the years and picked the ones that we feel are the true standout stars of the platform. Check back with us throughout the week as we run down five of Xbox Live Arcade’s top games every night. And don’t forget to head to the comments to let us know how much you love (or hate) our picks.
(Editor’s Note: Voting was conducted in early September. No games released post-Summer of Arcade 2013 were considered eligible.)
Nathan Bowring, Reporter — Minecraft’s impact on XBLA has been huge; it’s been beating sales records ever since its release, and it continues to top the Xbox Live activity charts. There’s just something magical about that simple, blocky world that’s hard to resist. Every new, randomly generated world is the start of a new adventure. In Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, you’ll map out the landscape, explore deep caverns to collect precious diamonds, fight terrifying nocturnal monsters and build to your heart’s desire. The resources you collect may turn into your new house, or maybe you’ll turn them into weapons to fight the Ender Dragon. The only thing that limits the game is your imagination, with every new title update adding so many more possibilities.
In recent interviews with Edge and Eurogamer, the makers of Braid and Super Meat Boy expressed their frustration with developing for Xbox Live Arcade. As independent developers, taking on the heated business of console development on top of development costs is more stress than its worth, say the developers.
“The overhead cost of just developing for those consoles is insane,” explained Tommy Refenes from Team Meat. “It costs zero dollars to develop on Steam if you already have a computer. When you look at PlayStation and Xbox and Nintendo, you have to buy thousand dollar dev kits and pay for certification and pay for testing and pay for localisation – you have to do all these things and at the end of the day it’s like, ‘I could have developed for other platforms and it would’ve been easier.'”
On top of development costs, there are lawyers, fees and ambiguity to sort through that cause an equally overwhelming headache. Ed McMillen from Team Meat said that to bring his studio’s games to consoles, his team would need “some magical middleman who would just appear and do all of our business for us… We went in and found out what it was like to develop for a console and the reality is there’s no loyalty on either side and it’s a business. And when you step in to that business arena it goes from us making art and it turns into business.”