July 28, 2011

Looking at this year’s “Summer of Arcade”….


Every summer, we gamers go through a drought of new releases. Microsoft tries to bring water to this desert with “Summer of Arcade” a show case of 5 arcade games that they deem to be the cream of the crop, or at least interesting at best. This year’s event kicked off last week with the release of Bastion, a gorgeous action RPG, and continues this week with the unique god game From Dust. Here is the list, price points and release dates.

– Bastion: July 20th, 1200 points

– From Dust: July 27th, 1200 points

– Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet: August 3rd 1200 points

– Fruit Ninja Kinect: August 10th 800 points

– Toy Soldiers: Cold War: August 17th 1200 points

This year’s list is something of an odd one. Every year there seems to be a theme to the releases, last year you had a multiplayer centric list; Hydro Thunder: Hurricane, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, and Monday Night Combat, but they threw in Limbo to spice things up (and I am glad they did, Limbo was fantastic). 2009 was quite action oriented with the likes of TMNT: Turtles in Time –Re-shelled, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Splosion Man, Trials HD, and the seminal Shadow Complex. This year they are all over the place but can see one unique trait with all of them; creativity. How are they creative you say? Well Bastion is an isometric action RPG like Diablo or Torchlight, what sticks out is the watercolor visuals and the constant narration of your actions on the fly by the “stranger”.

From Dust is a game in the same vein as Black & White, or Populous, but you are using the elements of the world around you (dirt, water, lava, etc) to help the tribe you watch over from the dangers that are ever present (tsunamis, volcanoes, etc.).

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is this year’s Metroid/vania title with a Patapon (PSP) type art style, and a Tim Burton/malevolent atmosphere.  You control a small UFO through a dark and mysterious world with huge creatures and several power ups for your craft.

Fruit Ninja Kinect, is what it sounds like; but what is unique is the fact it is the first ever arcade game for Kinect. The mobile app is brought to life with HD visuals and a two player option that will have you splattering fruit innards on the screen with you and your couch ninja buddy.

Last but not certainly least we have Toy Soldiers: Cold War. This is a sequel to a game that was one of the best selling XBLA titles of last year. The first Toy Soldiers was unique to begin with, a tower defense game that let you take direct control over your towers using them to their fullest potential add a World War 1 visual style, and a distinctive location of your battle; a table top game. Your forces would mow down the enemy as springs and toy pieces would go flying from the defeated foes. This year’s title will play similar to its processor but with a few new game play tweaks and an 80’s movie esthetic. You will be mowing down the countless hordes of the Big Red, and will have the opportunity to take control of a Rambo/G.I. Joe look alike that comes down to the battle field in its own action figure packaging that will take you into the “danger zone”.

There is usually some sort of prize every year for any one that down loads a number of Summer of Arcade titles and this year is no different. If you purchase all 5 titles you will receive Crimson Alliance for free, will be released at 1200 points. Crimson Alliance is a 4 player co-operative action RPG that is being developed by Certain Affinity, a team that is comprised of some Bungie alumni with some other industry vets in tow, and will be released on September 7th.

There will be reviews of all these titles with Bastion and From Dust coming ASAP and the rest when they are released.

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