Didn’t think we’d keep this going? Too much work? Too much copy paste? No such thing! The XBLA Fans Monthly Roundup is back again this time displaying a clear love for features! December was a month of features as we all tackled new ideas, new plans and executed them (hopefully flawlessly). Witness the beginning of the Friday Top Five, a top five list of things pertaining to one awesome thing (because why not?), and the XBLA Primer, a nifty batch of background history on a developer’s XBLA history as well as a list of their games. Hopefully these features will be well liked as we have plans to permeate the rest of the new year with them as well as our other veteran features.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out our Game of the Year awards listed in the Features section!

This month in announcements:

This month in releases:

  • Trine 2
  • All Zombies Must Die!
  • Joe Danger: Special Edition
  • Apples to Apples
  • Sonic CD
  • Voltron: Defender of the Universe

This month in DLC:

This month in reviews:

DLC Quest (XBLIG) –  Going Loud Studios – 80 MSP – Score: Buy It!

DLC Quest is an excellent example of what a great indie game can be. It completely breaks the mold of what a game is. At the same time it pokes fun at the gaming industry (and gamers as well) in a meaningful way.DLC Quest truly succeeds, and for that reason it should be played by everyone.”

Voltron: Defender of the Universe – Behaviour Interactive & THQ – 800 MSP – Score: Try It!

Voltron: Defenders of the Universe is a great little game, but it’s not for everyone. The twin-stick/quick time nature of its gameplay will be appetizing to fans of the genre, but those who prefer other control methods may be turned off. That’s really where the line gets drawn. If you love twin stick shooters, even if you aren’t steeped in the lore of Voltron, you’ll find this a solid game. On the other hand die hard fans of the series looking for a different style are going to swallow a bitter pill. It’s the right fit for the series and provides a fulfilling experience, but it’s all up to personal preference.”

Joe Danger: Special Edition – Hello Games & Microsoft – 1200 MSP – Score: Buy It!

“But at the end of the day, Joe Danger: Special Edition takes the physics of Trials HD but adds more depth to the gameplay and presentation. It’s a solid motorcycle game with excellent replay value that’ll keep you coming back to unlock every bit of content. While not playing with your friends online is a bummer, you can still send any crazy track creations to anybody over Xbox LIVE and it’s pretty great in local since you’ll want punch your friend for getting a higher score. Now that we’re waiting for Joe Danger: The Movie next year, playing the original will give you a great sense of what to expect in the future. Joe Danger’s stop on XBLA has solidified his fame and we can’t see wait to see him on the big screen.”

Scene It? Movie Night – Sarbarkan Games & Screenlife LLC – 800 MSP – Score: Try It!

“These quiz games always go down well at parties and if you’re already a fan of the franchise and are on the look out for some new questions then this is a decent release and you should definitely try it out. However it does feels more like an add-on than a full game and if you’re new to the Scene It? series, this one is hard to recommend over one of the boxed versions that include buzzers and an online experience.”

Apples to Apples – ImaginEngine & THQ – 800 MSP – Score: Try It!

Apples to Apples is Apples to Apples. It’s a fantastic party game for playing with well known friends, relatives and rivals. The XBLA version is 800MSP whereas the card game can go for about $16 USD. Unfortunately the XBLA version really pales in comparison when featured at actual parties hosted at someone’s house. Diehard fans of this game should buy it, especially if their group has access to a 360 with online capabilities as there’s nothing different about the online multiplayer and playing the card game in a room with friends. People who have never played this game are advised to find someone that has the actual card game, play it, love it, then convince their friends to get on XBLA.”

Sonic CD – Sega – 400 MSP – Score: Buy It!

“400 MSP for a game that needed an expensive peripheral to play it back in the 90s, it’s well worth the price of admission. Sonic CD feels like a great relic from the past, and newcomers might find a new favorite Sonic game to give their heart to. While it can be confusing and brutally unfair in its last stage, the game progresses beautifully and makes us remember what the classics are all about. The game is the same price as all the other games in the original Genesis series and well worth it. It’s time for you to play Sonic once again and this time, without the bulky peripheral and CD-ROM.”

ElfSquad 7 (XBLIG) – Stardock – 80 MSP – Score: Try It!

Elf Squad 7 is definitely a seasonal game; you’d only want to play it this time of year. The basic gameplay is good, and allows for multiple replays with friends and family. This game is meant for Christmas; this game can be played with all ages and it is dripping with holiday cheer. It is rare to see a holiday-themed game on a console, so while not perfect this game fills the void rather well.”

Trine 2 – Frozenbyte & Atlus – 1200 MSP – Score: Try It!

“The sum of Trine 2‘s parts is a game that’s going to impress some and fail to capture the interest of others. The game’s charming world, gorgeous visuals and impressive physics based gameplay give it plenty to stand up on. It’s failure to show players “how to play” and questionable combat however, may cause the game to fall flat on its face in the eyes of others. If you’re someone who absolutely loves puzzle games, and other conundrum packed adventures like Portal, you will likely find yourself falling in love with the game’s witty design and charm. On the other hand, if you’re someone looking for an action packed romp or a traditional platformer, you may want to steer clear of Trine 2 despite it’s glorious high-definition paint job. In the end, Trine 2‘s going to draw praise from some, and disappoint others. Want a sure fire way to find out which crowd you belong to? Download the Trine 2 trial today and give the game a try before diving in for yourself.”


This month in features:

XBLA’s Most Wanted: Unreal Tournament 2004

“There’s really only one problem with multiplayer-focused games: they get traded in. Digital copies can’t get traded in. But how do you convince players to spend retail price on UT3? It’s simple: you don’t. You give them UT2004 at an Xbox Live Arcade price. They don’t feel it’s much of a sacrifice to pick up, and the servers stay consistent because it can’t just be traded in. Just ask EA about Battlefield 1943. Two and a half years later the servers are still booming. UT can be the same way.”

XBLA Primer: Twisted Pixel

“Michael Wilford and co. said that their new studio would focus on the digital market and XBLA was something they always thought would take off. Now with over four XBLA titles under their belt and being acquired by Microsoft, we thought we’d bring you a little list of some of their titles to bring you up on Twisted Pixel’s wackiness in the XBLA game market.”

Friday Top Five: XBLA’s cutest characters

“The real world can be depressing at times but so too can the world of video games. If you’re looking to take a break from war, zombie outbreaks and bleak post apocalyptic realms then check out our Top 5 cutest characters found on XBLA. In the first of a new weekly feature, we’ve analyzed each XBLA character in turn and selected only those scientifically proven to induce warm fuzzy feelings in your tummy. So without further ado let’s check out this week’s Friday Top Five.”

XBLA’s Most Wanted: What’s yours?

“We still have a two more XBLA’s Most Wanted features waiting in the wings for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but we thought we’d take a minute and ask you, the everyday gamer, what your number one XBLA game wish is. Remember to be realistic–we aren’t going to see any Super Mario games on XBLA–but have fun with it. Who knows, you just might have your favorite game featured in a future Most Wanted column, and if you do you’ll have all of your wildest dreams come true.”

XBLAFans 2011 Game of the Year awards

  • Biggest surprise – The Adventures of Shuggy
  • Biggest Disappointment –  The War of the Worlds
  • Best HD Remake – Beyond Good & Evil HD
  • Best Audio – Bastion
  • Best Game Everyone Forgot About – Ms. Splosion Man
  • Best Game Design – Orcs Must Die!
  • Best Multiplayer – Section 8: Prejudice
  • Best Visuals – Bastion
  • Game of the Year – Iron Brigade (Trenched)

The new Xbox dashboard and the indie games market

“So there you have it. On one hand, searching for indie games is just as bad as ever, and in some ways even worse. On the other, some indie games are getting greater exposure and Microsoft has worked to start integrating indie games into at least some parts of the new dashboard. Forums are filled with developers arguing for both sides, so we can’t even turn to those guys for an answer. Some developers have used the time that others have spent talking and created hilarious games poking fun at the new dashboard. No matter which way you lean, it is hard to disagree with the fact that the Xbox Live Indie Games market has become a valuable part of the Xbox Live community. And despite some growing pains, we can only wish it continued success and ever-increasing relevance in the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere.”

Games great for holiday family fun

“We ‘re putting this together as they’re shutting off the lights, but we wanted to get one last post out before the holidays. Lots of you will get together with family and friends over the next week or so, and XBLA has the kind of games that are great for those moments. Whether hooking up online or on the couch we’ve got you covered.”

XBLA Primer: Double Fine Productions

“If goes without saying that the folks at Double Fine Productions are some of the most talented and creative minds in the industry. They pour their heart and soul into every game they produce and it shows. Over the past few years Double Fine has touched everything from tower defense, to role-playing to puzzle games . They’ve been everywhere from inside your mind, to Sesame Street, to the land of the heavy metal Gods. No matter what lies ahead for Double Fine Productions, you can be sure it’s something to be excited about. The digital download market has been very kind to Double Fine. We are confident that Double Fine will continue to be kind to it in return, to Xbox Live Arcade and to its fans.”

What to do with your new Xbox 360

“Just take a freakin’ look around, man. Add some friends (the XBLA Fans community is a great way to make some Xbox Live friends!). Change your avatar (head to the social tab and click on your avatar, then select Customize Avatar). Try some Bing searches. Take a look at Inside Xbox on the video tab. Check out the Video Marketplace. Check out the Music Marketplace. If you have a Kinect, try out some voice commands. There’s an incredible amount of content floating around on your dashboard just waiting to be uncovered, so click around and see what you find!”

This month’s podcasts:

This month in interviews and previews:

This month in guides:

XBLA sales analysis: