We totally missed January, but the Monthly Recap is back for February! Yaaay. There’s an immense amount of news this month because for some reason February is XBLA month. There’s roughly a million game announcements and DLC as well. I suggest hitting CTRL + F and searching for the copious news about your favorite game. Or games. Or just read all the news, because that’s a good idea.
Beyond the “things that happened”, there’s also several Friday Top Fives and Most Wanted’s this month as we continue to beef up our feature repertoire. Our chief feature, A Year In Review (2011) is definitely worth checking out for some insight into the fluctuations in XBLA cost versus review scores. Lastly, amongst the five podcasts is our Music Special which showcases some of the best XBLA soundtrack tunes since its inception.
Without further ado, welcome to February all over again!
This month in announcements:
- Shank 2’s Survival Mode takes center stage in new vid
- Rayman 3 HD announcement trailer reveals March 21 release date
- Shank 2’s survival multiplayer character Karina isn’t just a re-skin of Shank
- Gotham City Impostors glider rig boot camp
- Trials Evolution out spring 2012
- Skullgirls receives M rating in Australia
- Sega looking to publish more XBLA titles in 2012
- Check out the changes to de_dust in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Harvest Moon creator founds Toybox Inc.
- Alan Wake set to rewrite XBLA
- Rayman 3 HD priced at 800 MSP
- THQ teams up with “father” of the Xbox to publish downloadable titles
- Skullgirls story trailer hints at eighth character
- Biart showing off multiple projects at this year’s GDC
- Crackle and CinemaNow come to Xbox Live
- Double Fine head Tim Schafer speaks out on publisher’s reluctance to invest in new IP’s
- Dungeon Defenders hits the million mark
- Meet the robots you’ll be destroying in Shoot Many Robots
- Microsoft takes more flak from indie community
- Kung-Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise receives ESRB rating and screenshots
- Free-to-play Hawken won’t get an XBLA release
- FortressCraft sets new XBLIG sales record
- Over 100 pieces of DLC already available for Gotham City Impostors
- Recently Reduced titles for brawlers and swarmers
- I Am Alive climbs to new heights
- Microsoft addresses Xbox Live security issues
- The Pinball Arcade releasing in late March
- Bodoink coming Spring 2012 for 400 MSP
- Retro City Rampage teaser has big news coming in February
- Gotham City Impostors launch trailer
- Half a million Fruit Ninja Kinect copies sold
- Double Fine’s new project funded exclusively through Kickstarter
- Dungeon Defenders receives its first console patch
- XBLA Fans release e-book for Amazon Kindle
- American Nightmare developer diary talks story and urban legends
- Shank 2 brings the blood in the launch trailer
- Has Haste become Mad Riders?
- The Splatters flips out over new move
- 7Sixty unleashes new teaser trailer for Kung Fu Strike: The Warrior’s Rise
- Blacklight: Tango Down goes down to 400 MSP
- First batch of Windows 8 games includes familiar names
- Remedy says Alan will awaken again
- Sneak a peek at some Vessel gameplay
- New Nexuiz video details the game’s mutators and super weapons
- Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 rated
- New Sine Mora screenshots showcase varied environments and an elegant shotgun wielding cat-lady
- American Nightmare proves Mr. Scratch is a psycho
- XBLA sales data for week beginning January 30
- Gotham City Impostors to receive free DLC
- New Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD info
- Skulls of the Shogun coming this fall
- Tequila Works sheds new info on Deadlight
- Schafer on XBLA: “It could have been our own little Sundance Film festival”
- Wrecked: Revenge Revisited priced, kind of dated
- Girl Fight set to sleaze up XBLA
- Have a murderous Valentine’s Day with Ska Studios
- Techland’s Project Haste becomes Mad Riders
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II details and screenshots leak from the Marketplace
- Xbox 360 was U.S.’s top-selling console in January
- Zivix announces Jam Live Music Arcade and debuts first trailer
- Mad Riders trailer shows aerial maneuvers and customization
- Warp launch trailer has blood coming out of scientists
- Project Draco fires up to become Crimson Dragon
- Watch this new Nurse Valentine trailer…stat!
- Jordan Mechner announces Karateka remake
- Scratch that itch with the third Alan Wake’s American Nightmare developer diary
- Telltale’s The Walking Dead adaptation shambles onto Xbox Live Arcade this spring
- New Double Fine game not coming to XBLA (for now)
- Gotham City Impostors glitch resets stats
- New Nexuiz trailer shows off mutators and lightning quick gameplay
- Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus announced for XBLA
- Biart closing deal with publisher for Depth Hunter with Kinect support
- Final Sine Mora character reveal introduces a lizard rocking sunglasses
- Alan Wake goes grindhouse in new launch trailer
- XBLA Publishing negotiations underway for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath remake
- XBLIG gets a new home in the Dashboard
- Klei Entertainment releases Shank comic
- Double trouble for Skullgirls with final character reveal
- New Awesomenauts screens show off multiplayer insanity
- Interview: Jeremiah Slaczka, CEO of 5th Cell talks Hybrid
- Retro City Rampage causing chaos this May
- Dungeon Defenders DLC and update submitted to Microsoft
- Rumor: Minecraft building up for a late March release?
- Sine Mora goes gold as Digital Reality and Grasshopper prep for launch
- WWE WrestleFest announced for XBLA
- Anomaly Warzone Earth trailer shows tactical destruction in tower offense
- Gotham City Impostors helping players affected by stats glitch
- XBLA to get an exclusive splattering this spring
- Bang Bang Racing trailer has obstacles to avoid and various viewpoints
- New Diabolical Pitch screens show off a mean fastball
- Sine Mora shooting up the place on March 21
- Double Fine offers Brutal Legend-themed items for Iron Brigade
- Retro City Rampage soundtrack available for your 8-bit loving ears
- Is Jet Set Radio coming to XBLA? Sega hints at next Dreamcast XBLA title
- Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II gameplay trailer reveals Spring 2012 release
- Shoot Many Robots this Pi Day
- New Frogger game possibly leaping onto XBLA
- Witness a warrior’s rise in debut trailer for Kung Fu Strike
- Ronimo showcases Awesomenauts’ audio and Prestige mode
- Interview: IllFonic’s Kedhrin Gonzalez talks Nexuiz
- Fez now in the certification process at Microsoft
- Trine 2 to receive large DLC pack this summer
- First Gotham City Impostors DLC out today
- Arena Shooters Reloaded in new Nexuiz launch trailer
- Rise from dust in this new Sine Mora teaser
- Klei Entertainment announces Mark of the Ninja
- Crimson Dragon officially debuted
- I Am Alive dev diary recommends thinking before shooting
- New Diabolical Pitch screenshots bring the heat
- Quantum Conundrum entering our dimension this summer
- Trials Evolution launching April 2012
- Marketplace listing proves Deep Black isn’t sunk yet
- Dark Energy Digital facing administration
- Shoot Many Robots goes customization crazy
- Sega and Arkedo officially unveil Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
- Microsoft: XBLA will continue to evolve and then die
This month in releases:
- Happy Action Theater – 800 MSP
- Rhythm Party – 800 MSP
- Gotham City Impostors – 1200 MSP
- Simpsons Arcade – 800 MSP
- Alan Wake’s American Nightmare – 1200 MSP
- Shank 2 – 800 MSP
- Nexuiz – 800 MSP
- Warp – 800 MSP
This month in DLC:
- Iron Brigade – Rise of the Martian Bear – 400 MSP
- Pinball FX2 – Epic Quest – 240 MSP
- Choplifter HD – Zombie Level Pack – 80 MSP
- Rhythm Party – Three Song Packs – 240 MSP
This month in reviews:
Puddle – Neko Entertainment & Konami – 800 MSP – Skip It!
Puddle has promise, and if it weren’t for the limited controls, unbalanced difficulty and lack of fun, the developer would be on to something. In the game’s current state, it would be better suited on iOS and players will immediately notice this. In an industry that requires at least an initial bout of optimism, we feel really pessimistic after playing this one
Iron Brigade: Rise of the Martian Bear – Double Fine & Microsoft – 400 MSP – Buy It!
We’ve been in somewhat of a mainstream gaming dead zone for the past few months. After the dust settles from the holidays, things always tend to slow down a bit. Fortunately for us, Xbox Live Arcade has helped bridge the gap and has provided us with plenty to play during this “downtime”. Whether you’re sitting on your couch with nothing to play, or still delving into your backlog, Rise of the Martian Bear is worth every penny. There’s an incredible amount of fun to be had, and a smorgasbord of things to do. If you own Iron Brigade there is simply no excuse for not jumping on this opportunity to expand the experience and shoot up more tubes. Simply put, Rise of the Martian Bear is one of the first must buy releases of 2012. Do yourself a favor and add it to your collection today.
The Simpsons Arcade – Backbone Entertainment & Konami – 800 MSP – Buy It!
It’s always nice to see a game on our Most Wanted list come true and in the case of The Simpsons Arcade, it’s most certainly excellent. From the fun four player co-op that’s online and offline to the great Springfield scenarios, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this brawler. While some people might find its aged a little too much, the nostalgia-hearted people who remember when Bart got his cohorts to take on Nelson will find much to love here. At 800 MSP, it’s a pretty great package with all, new presentation and the Japanese ROM but the people who weren’t raised on The Simpsons won’t find much to love here. But at the end of the day, you’ll want to rush home to your couch and play with your friends. Grab some donuts and frosty chocolate milkshakes, you’re in for a real treat.
Shank 2 – Klei Entertainment & EA – 800 MSP – Buy It!
Shank 2 is an incredibly solid game, and it has the most important thing that a lot of games seem to lack: it’s fun to play. While the campaign is short and the multiplayer isn’t as fleshed out as it could be, the whole game is fun the whole way through, and that is not something to scoff at. At 800 MSP, this game is a steal.
Pinball FX 2: Epic Quest – Zen Studios & Microsoft – 240 MSP – Buy It!
There’s something about the whole knight-in-shining-armor-saving-the-princess that always draws you in. The table is well thought out, delivers a few surprises, has lots of loot and several battles. As you defeat monster after monster on your journey to save the princess it draws you in. This may be the next evolution in pinball tables.
Gotham City Impostors – Monolith & WB Games – 1200 MSP – Buy It!
Gotham City Impostors is one of the most downright fun shooters available today. Matches are a blast to play, and the frequent unlocks lets you adjust your strategy every time you level up. There may not be enough content for some, and the matchmaking is borderline terrible, but the promise of free DLC and patches may ease the pain. Being Batman may be awesome, but being an impostor is so much fun.
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare – Remedy Entertainment & Microsoft – 1200 MSP – Buy It!
Remedy Entertainment set out to create an experience that can’t be found elsewhere on XBLA. In that endeavor, they have succeeded grandly. Unfortunately the game stumbles when attempting to live up to its lineage, especially when it comes to atmosphere. For some, the repeated scenarios might prove too much of an aggravation, and they won’t bother crossing the finish line. Wake fans willing to accept that shortcoming, however, have a rich experience ahead of them that’s well worth the price of admission.
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition – Electronic Arts – 1200 MSP – Buy It!
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition does just about everything right. The action is fast, intense and lots of fun. It’s one of the rare retro titles that isn’t just for fans from back in the day. Even the uninitiated will be immediately hooked. It’s an over-the-top caricature of what the NBA is and it couldn’t be more satisfying to play. Even after almost 20 years the NBA Jam formula is hard to beat.
Happy Action Theater – Double Fine & Microsoft – 800 MSP – Try It!
The plain and simple criteria on buy this game is whether you’re social or not. If you have friends over often there’s some draw to having quirky Kinect games. If you have kids that love Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster then this is an absolute purchase. It’s easy for kids to pick up because there’s not much to it. If you’re someone who mostly games alone there isn’t anything here that’s more interesting than watching recorded gameplay of Happy Action Theater. If you’re a loner, skip it. For everyone else…
Warp – Trapdoor & EA – 800 MSP – Try It!
There are the workings of a quality game lurking beneath Warp’s foibles, I’d love to see Trapdoor have another crack at it because so few games bother subverting that most fundamental of gameplay mechanics: movement. When it finally shifts into gear (that’s to say, when Zero is fully suited) there’s enough to prove that the concept is solid, but all that’s good about the game is swamped beneath baffling design decisions that open the doors for tedium and frustration to annex the party.
Nexuiz – Illfonic & THQ – 800 MSP – Skip It!
Those who know the roots of Nexuiz will understand why it just doesn’t feel right. The original game was created by weekend warriors and modders, and that’s exactly what this feels like. It lacks the creative direction and polish of a professional studio, and those are the things that refine a game into something more than a mod. If this were a free-to-play mod for Crysis we’d recommend it in a heartbeat, but for 800 MSP your money is better saved for something else. We’ll wait until CliffyB and the team at Epic Games wise up and decide to re-release Unreal Tournament on XBLA, thanks.
This month in features:
At XBLA Fans, there is no question that we love Xbox Live Arcade. We seek to provide our readers with the best possible source for XBLA content. If you aren’t familiar with XBLA please check out this post. While other websites do an excellent job with sales estimates, we sought to take another look at 2011, seeking trends and other information we thought our fans might be interested in:
- Are XBLA prices actually increasing? We asked our own Ross Adams to investigate. You can find his results here.
- Is Summer of Arcade worth the hype? XBLA Fans Editor-in-Chief John Laster looks into past Summer of Arcades to see how 2011’s promotion stacks up.
- How willing are developers to take risks on new IPs? Does XBLA provide a strong platform for developers to take chances? Ross Adams breaks down last year’s releases.
- How often do XBLA games go on sale? Are there any specific trends that dictate when a game goes on sale? Newcomer Craig Hart analyzes the numbers.
Over the years, we’ve seen many video games turn to Movies or TV shows. From Pac-Man to Sonic toViewtiful Joe at one point, some of these characters are some we want to see on our small screen when we get home from work or school. So for today’s Friday Top Five, we’re taking some XBLA games and seeing how they would turn out as Movies or TV shows.
Crimson Skies is a very elaborate universe set during the 1930?s, or to be more accurate an alternate 1930?s. The United States is in ruins, having Balkanized into several small jurisdictions. Planes have become the most common form of transportation, leading to the birth of air pirates.
Judging by the amount of games we expect to release this year, we already know that 2012 is going to be the biggest year yet for Xbox Live Arcade. With that in mind, we decided to ask each of our staff members to choose one game that they’re really looking forward to playing this year, and tell us exactly what we have to look forward to and why. Without further ado, we present to you XBLAFans Most Anticipated Games of 2012.
Love is in the air or so it would seem with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. At XBLA Fans we thought we’d take a moment to celebrate our love affair with games by taking a look at some of the top romantic relationships that can found on XBLA. Whether you’re wining and dining your sweetheart or hiding under the covers till this whole commercial scam of a holiday blows over, set aside some time for a romantic evening of XBLA. Keen matchmakers that we are, we’ve created a list of possible partners so read on to find out ourTop Five XBLA Romances. Oh XBLA, you had us at “Deal of the Week”.
It’s the middle of the night, you’re roaming the highway in your supped up turbo-charged Supra, headlights flash in your rear view and, in a blink of an eye it’s on. This is the premise behind Crave Entertainments classic racer Tokyo Xtreme Racer, originally launching for the Dreamcast in 1999. This game had huge aspirations when it launched. Not only were they venturing into new territory as being one of the first mission based games, but they were also introducing a new style of racing that most people didn’t even know existed.
From Mario to Sonic, one of the most prevalent genres in gaming has always been platforming. It hasn’t been as important as it used to be but games like Rayman Origins prove people still care about platforming. On the XBLA side, the platforming genre has seen many leaps forward with hard difficulty, precise platforming or a creepy atmosphere. We’re not even done with the genre either with upcoming games like Pid and Fez. Today we thought we’d take a look at five really great platformers and discuss why they’re so good on XBLA.
Let me conclude by saying that I respect game developers immensely. Some of the companies that I’ve referenced in this article are developers that I’m extremely passionate about and serve as inspiration to me. Their work is the reason why I love gaming as much as I do. But that said, I can hear the excuses starting to form already; There was a technology issue that prevented us from doing it! It’s a server issue! We ran out of money! We spent the development time on other, more important things! Co-op would ruin the balance of what we’ve built! You know what my answer is? I don’t care. As a game developer, don’t you want more people to enjoy your games? Don’t you want to build your sales so you can continue doing what we all love? These co-op sins are problems, that need to be addressed. I hope some of the developers out there take this list of theses to heart and continue to make great games for years to come. With plenty of co-op to go around.
Riptide GP. It was the flagship game for NVidia’s Tegra 2 chip on Android devices, and the second release from Hydro Thunder Hurricane developer Vector Unit. Having gained footing as a developer with Hydro Thunder, Vector Unit took the opportunity to go indie and put their amazing water engine to use on mobile devices. The result is something that is truly one of the best mobile gaming experiences to date.
Racing games are an interesting sort. Like shooters, they’re at times so oversaturated with decent-yet-forgettable titles that it’s hard to pick the quality ones out from a sea of titles. Luckily XBLA is limited to 20-ish titles that revolve around the genre. Even still we have our favorites that we feel best represent what Xbox Live Arcade racing games should offer. While 20 participants enter the ring, only five make our list.
As development for a game winds down the team begins to shift: less folks are working on the core game and more get started on the DLC. Once it’s submitted for certification the team can’t sit there and twiddle their thumbs, they need to keep everyone busy. So they’re pretty much all working on DLC if they haven’t been assigned to a new game. Sometimes the DLC gets certified while the game is out getting discs pressed, manuals made, getting shipped to retailers, that sort of stuff. Nobody is trying to scam gamers by ‘leaving things out’. As you can see by the above chart, the pre-production process for the DLC isn’t started until the main game’s development gets churning, and at that point it involves the writers, concept artists, etc fleshing out the theme and story. Those folks have already done most of their job in regards to the core game, and they gotta stay busy.
Most remember the first game in the series Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, which put players in control of an Apache attack helicopter. However there were actually five games in the series, with a sixth planned but ultimately cancelled (though it morphed into Future Cop: LAPD). The 16-bit era Strike games, Desert, Jungle and Urban were all fairly similar with the only changes being settings and the ability to pilot other (ground based) vehicles in the latter games.
This month’s podcasts:
- XBLAFancast Episode 47 – The UNO Diaries – MP3 | iTunes
- XBLAFancast Episode 48 – Kinectin’ with Nick – MP3 | iTunes
- XBLAFancast Episode 49 – I give that news story a “Skip it” – MP3 | iTunes
- XBLAFancast Episode 50 – Anniversary Edition – MP3 | iTunes
- XBLAFancast Music Special – MP3 | iTunes
- XBLAFancast Episode 51 – Alan Wake’s Canadian Nightmare – MP3 | iTunes
This month in interviews and previews:
This month in guides:
Iron Brigade Rise of the Martian Bear DLC guide – Level guides, survival guides, loot guides.