We’re late, and it seems that’s become somewhat of a trend for us lately. Our Game of the Year awards weren’t doled out until January, and now our look forward at the XBLA and Xbox One XBLA-type games of 2014 is just making its way to you in February. You were on your own when it came to planning out January’s releases, but now it’s time for our annual look ahead at the top downloadable games likely to arrive on an Xbox platform during the (remainder of) the year ahead. Read on to find out what you can expect out of Xbox over the next (not quite) 365.
Capcom’s Strider, today most commonly known for the main character’s appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, will be the star of his own game next week on February 19 for the first time in more than 20 years. This particular entry appears to draw more from his NES game than any of his other appearances, mixing the exploration of Metroid with the visceral combat of Ninja Gaiden. As a result, comparisons to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are inevitable and likely warranted. If any company can follow in the footsteps of these giants, it’s Capcom — seeing what it does in a two-dimensional environment given the horsepower of the Xbox One will be a treat.
Super Time Force
Developer: Capybara Games
Something that all retro gamers know is that every attempt through a blisteringly hard level has something to teach them: dodge a split second earlier; shoot upwards as you jump over a crevasse; weave between these specific bullets. Capybara Games takes this concept and makes it into its next game’s main mechanic, giving each previous attempt a physical form in the present one, allowing your previous choices not just to teach intuitively, but to engage directly with current gameplay. While some of these concepts have been attempted in other SHMUPs (see the final stage of Gradius V), it has never been implemented on this scale. We should be seeing this one sooner rather than later, as the official website lists a release date of a “few months into 2014.”
Takedown: Red Sabre
The tagline on the Steam listing for the PC edition of Takedown: Red Sabre states that it is the “thinking-person’s shooter,” but the game has been critiqued as having particularly poor AI, a problem for a game that wants to step into the shoes of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six line of shooters. That being said, there have been a number of console ports of games originally released for PC that ended up improved for their console debut, so don’t count Takedown out just yet. If the developer was able to spend some extra time polishing the game for the console release, it could turn out to be a shooter worthy of Clancy’s gaming legacy — we will find out in just a few days’ time, as the game releases on Xbox 360 February 21.
Tales from the Borderlands
Developer: Telltale Games
Telltale Games appears to be the studio that can do no wrong lately. Its adaptation of The Walking Dead released to an astounding amount of critical acclaim, and The Wolf Among Us is currently seeing similar praise online. Seeing how the developers shift from these more serious atmospheres to the sarcastic, comedy-filled world of Gearbox’s Borderlands franchise will be another test for the masterful adventure studio, but one that it is likely to pass with flying colors. Bring your non-gamer friends along for the ride, as this one will be just as fun to watch as it is to play if it’s anything like the other Telltale adventure games.
It’s difficult to come up with something original to write about this most ubiquitous game. In this latest version, expect a multitude of playable modes both single player and multiplayer, with game types both cooperative and competitive. One interesting point is that Ubisoft is releasing the game and the publisher has not done a Tetris port before, so hopefully we will see a few brand new gameplay modes to keep the experience fresh, even though such a masterful, pure expression of a video game needs no bells and whistles to make it worth publishing on every electronic device in existence.
Developer: Supergiant Games
XBLA Fans tentatively anticipates a port of Transistor to Xbox One — despite no such port being yet announced, SuperGiant Games’ previous title, Bastion, was exclusive to one system (the Xbox 360) for a time and then later released on other platforms, including iOS and PC.
While Bastion‘s isometric view returns in Transistor, the core gameplay loop introduces elements of a tactical RPG to the action gameplay, creating interesting opportunities for both movement and combat. If the demo (on PlayStation 4) is anything to judge by, expect an engaging story made more immersive by the use of Logan Cunningham’s outstanding voice, this time given to the “Transistor” character itself, which is the giant sword found by the main character in the opening seconds of the game.
Wondering what other games are headed to XBLA and Xbox One in 2014? Check out the rest of our look at the year ahead and wonder no more:
XBLA Fans Games of 2014 graphic designed by Brandin Tyrrel.