X-Men Arcade (Xbox Live Arcade)
The 1992 quarter-munching brawler has made it’s way online, the only way to deliver the original’s six-player action featuring the early nineties iteration of Marvel’s uncanny heroes. Though you can choose between Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, or apparent raffle winner Dazzler, apart from slightly different attack animations and signature mutant powers, each play the same. The game itself isn’t much more then moving left to right against waves of man-sized Sentinels and assorted creatures broken up with battles with classic X-Foes. In the demo, online six-player play is locked; however, four players can play locally the game’s first stage finishing up with a boss fight against Pyro. A simple game to share with a group, this title also advertises the opportunity to play in “Japanese Version” mode which involves a slightly different mutant power use mechanics and power ups that were missing from the US release. And hey, you don't even have to put in quarters.
Quake Arena (Xbox Live Arcade)
, the one time competition standard among FPS games is a fast and frantic mess of a title, though that’s not entirely a negative. Even though most matches in its string of tight arenas quickly devolve into games of who can get to the rocket launcher first, the game’s overall pace and smoothness means that no one stays on top for very long. The demo allows for sixty minutes of online deathmatch play that is the key draw, but it also offers the first ‘world’ of single player challenges which pits you against AI controlled bots in a kill count race. These ‘worlds’ also features boss fights, but it’s disappointing to learn that that just means a slightly more difficult bot fight in the same kill count goal style, rather than a monster takedown. In-game is an artifact of a bygone era of FPS games, there’s no real sniping component and no iron sight aiming, but there is a quick 180-degree turnaround button and two buttons to scroll through normal and ‘super’ weapons like the aforementioned rocket launcher, a very slow exploding grenade launcher and various energy weapons. Visually the game retains the polygon characters and flat, segmented walls full of gothic imagery that epitomized 90’s FPS titles before pigeonholed the game style into the World War 2 era for the next decade. On the sound side, the effects are capable, though when the MIDI-like soundtrack kicks in, you’ll think something is wrong with your speakers.
The Path of Go (Xbox Live Arcade)
No, it’s not ‘,’ but an engine to teach and facilitate the play of Go, the multi-millennia Chinese game of strategy. Those who know how can play a small board version of the game locally against a friend or an AI player, but those who think Go is Othello played on the lines instead of the squares can play the tutorial, or the single player story mode. The demo, using Go based puzzles and matches handicapped in your favor, will take you through the first of five stages in your XBL Avatar’s journey to unlock the secrets of the game, and those within him or herself in a stock Chinese fantasy manner complete with pagodas and plinking zithers. Anyone anywhere with the desire to learn how to play this fascinating and more than slightly frustrating board game can do no better than . The title’s built in advice system will offer suggested moves and keep you up to date as to the score, a task much more difficult than simply counting the pieces on the board. The game will also stop you from making a “dishonorable” move, i.e. illegal piece placements that expose flaws in the ancient game’s rules, something that human players or teachers could possibly miss.What'd you think of this week's releases?