There aren’t too many Xbox Live Arcade games that I have actually been excited about. The games I play/buy from XBLA are old school favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game or the original Xbox game Fable. This isn’t due to a lack of high quality arcade games. Braid, for example, has received praise from numerous fans and critics. The time mechanics are unique. The gameplay is solid. Yet I have no desire to play. Of course there are exceptions to every trend. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and Castle Crashers are two addictive games that deserve some attention.
Castle Crashers is a 2D cell shaped rpg brawler. The story is simplistic yet satisfying. Some evil magician has attacked your Kings castle stealing women and shiny crystals. It is your job to kill legions of bad guys, save the girls, and return the sparkly crystal to the King. This goal is accomplished by navigating the games map which is very similar to a Mario game. Players go zone to zone collecting various items and kicking lots of ass. Each area is unique and it is rare to go more then four levels without a boss fight. By the end of the game you will have braved dark forests, raging oceans, dry deserts, ice caverns, and volcanic wastelands.
Players initially take on the role of four differently colored knights, but can eventually unlock over a dozen playable characters. As the player progresses they will gain experience and level up. The major stats are defense, strength, agility, and magic. Each knight has a different magic ability. Red is lightening. Blue is ice. Orange is fire, and Green is poison. Each magic type has a different perk. Ice can freeze, lightening can shock, etc. In addition to magic players utilize a melee weapon, shield, boomerang, and bow and arrow. The melee weapon can be upgraded frequently by finding new weapons throughout the game world. These range from awesomely deadly fire-sword to the ridiculous lobster club. Yes, a lobster club is an odd weapon, but it fits this games brilliant style.
Castle Crashers is a fun game. The combat is fluid. Each area offers a variety of gameplay experiences and is full of visual eye candy. The music is epic. There is tons of replay value with unlockable characters, online multiplayer with up to four people, and a hardcore mode for players who have beaten the game. Unfortunately online multiplayer is unreliable and unlocking characters is a pain. Overall the game is worth the fifteen bucks and scores a 4.5 out of 5.
Geometry Wars is a whole other beast that is closer to old school arcade games like Tetris and Asteroids. The controls are simplistic. The left analog controls movement and the right analog directs fire. Triggers will set off bombs if they are available. Enemies vary in color, geometrical shape, and behavior. The goal of the game is to last as long as possible without colliding with an enemy. The first Geometry Wars: Evolved only had one game mode, but the second has a whopping six. Each offers a unique twist to the original game, and increase the replay value significantly. Adding another delicious icing to this awesome cake is multiplayer and a solid sound track. Geometry Wars: Evolved 2 receives a score of 4.8 out of 5.
Well those are my two favorite “arcade” games. What arcade games do you play off of the Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade?