Clever Design in Cthulu Saves the World

This is a fun little Xbox/PC/soon iOS game in the old Dragon Warrior style.  It’s cheap ($1-3, depending on platform), well made, and doesn’t overstay its welcome.  The developer is also making the upcoming Penny Arcade sequel, which looks great!  There are some other reviews of the game out there, so I want to focus on […]

More of the Good and the Bad on Xbox

AC Brotherhood Good – Best storytelling of any of the games so far, most varied mission design, brotherhood powers are so badass, still very fun to stab people. Bad – Online way more chaotic than strategic, modern day characters as unlikeable as ever, overall gameplay starting to get tedious, brotherhood powers trivialize so many things. […]

360 Retail Good and Bad Bits

Haven’t been posting a lot, so here’s a few retail games I’ve played in the last few months and a few good and bad parts of each of them. Final Fantasy 13 Good Bits: Once it gets going, gameplay is unique and exciting; captures the feel of raiding (a la WoW) in a single player […]

An even better match of Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers

A few months ago I talked about Duel Decks.  They’re a cheap way to play good Magic.  The next step up came out: Duels of the Planeswalkers, out on Xbox 360.  You get eight theme decks for the price of one, for $10, and it’s packed with features and modes. The first run at the campaign […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Up: Worth a Taste

One of the underrated parts about online-connected consoles with easy demo access are the 10-15 minute tastes of games that wouldn’t be otherwise worth the purchase.  Sure, it might miss out on a few of the weapons or last bosses, but most B-movie action games just don’t justify the $60 entry fee.  Here are a […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Down: Out of Control

Any game released today has some redeeming value.  Even the worst franchise cash-in titles can pass the time, even though there might be twenty other games more fun than it.  What, then, makes a game a thumbs down?  Generally, the difference-maker is the controls.  If the controls don’t feel right, they distract from every other […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Up: Retro-Modern

Realize that old games are awesome.  A new breed of remakes keep the fast pace, immediate action, and simple controls.  The stuff to improve is the meta-game outside the gameplay.  Replace game-over-means-blank-slate and build strong progression.  Our XBLA games this week find ways to keep things simple yet make sure the action doesn’t stop. Bionic […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Down: Ketchup Edition

Many games aim for that epic quality and movie-like storytelling.  I don’t think any game has ever achieved it.  There are some epic games with little real story (Gears of War, Halo) as well as games with top-tier cinematics completely segmented from bouts of quirky, complex gameplay (Metal Gear, Final Fantasy).  Some games, like adventure […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Down: Trying Too Hard

Some games are too big, some are too small.  Some don’t know what they want to be and others don’t understand why nobody likes who they are.  Since I started playing and reviewing everything on XBLA, I found a lot of games that aren’t bad, only limited.  Most any game that makes it on Xbox […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Up: Geometry Wars 2

Geometry Wars 2 advances the two-stick shooter and the XBLA platform. Geometry Wars 1 was fun but limited. What could a sequel bring? How about improvements to the menus, scoreboards, and other “shell” elements along with some gameplay tweaks, tons of fun new modes, and great Xbox Achievements. A perfect bite of Arcade goodness. Score […]

Revolution Denied

Joe and I became true Xbox 360 players today, as our system has RROD’d like so many other 360s.  After months of eagerly anticipating Civilization Revolution, I popped in a fresh disc today and the system locked up.  Rebooted, RROD.  Oh no!  Out of commission for a few weeks.

Xbox Live Thumbs Down – Elements of Destruction, Ticket to Ride, Happy Tree Friends, Top Spin 3

Elements of Destruction (Arcade) Falling into the same pit as other B-list action games on Arcade, Elements of Destruction fails to provide suspense and danger, resulting in a lot of mindless and uninteresting action. Using mad scientist powers to control the weather, the player destroys random countryside while racking up points towards medals. Why do […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Up – Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3

Commando 3 is a prototype for how XBLA remakes should be done, though it has rough spots. Rereleases of old games have been common on all consoles but have higher visibility on XBLA, where players check for new games every week. Some games have such strong memories attached to them that they are fun impulse […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Down – Ninja Gaiden 2, Dark Sector, Quake Wars, Frogger 2

Ninja Gaiden 2 (Retail) I’m going to give this game the benefit of the doubt and assume it has the Virtua Fighter problem.  All the depth and balance and quality of high-level gameplay doesn’t mean anything if your game seems stupid and backwards compared to more accessible folk.  I’ve never had less fun dismembering ninjas. […]

Xbox Live Thumbs Up – Civilization Revolution

Never slow or intimidating, Civ Rev is the tightest Civ ever. Burned by Ikariam’s lack of depth, wanted to play some real historical strategy. Dug up Civ 4, played it out with my friends. Not a month later, tried out Civ Rev, the “consolization” of the PC staple.  Expected a dumb port of Civ 4, […]