The Xbox LIVE Summer of Arcade is over for another year, and thisisxbox.com would like to thank Xbox for reaching out to us and providing all the review codes for this years line-up. If you haven’t yet bought a single title, or perhaps wondering what-if-any should you go for – then here’s a recap of our reviews.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an exceptional game that is artistically beautiful and enchanting to play. The adventure takes the player on a journey that will tug at your heart strings in a game that is original and a true experience that will keep you glued to your screens. A game that reiterates quality over quantity could not be a truer word spoken. One of the best Xbox LIVE Arcade games to date for 2013 and a strong start for the Summer of Arcade this year!
I would say on the whole it is an excruciatingly difficult game to beat on one sitting. However I can confirm how much more fun this game is for co-operative action. It looks as though it was solely built for a great four player experience among friends to enjoy as playing alone with such a difficult quest did prove to feel really repetitive. In the early stages of the game it felt lack-lustre, just button mash and move-on because it’s just a case of messing with the X and Y buttons!
Week Three – Flashback – Released August 21st 2014.
Flashback is an average game that still fits in right at home on the Xbox LIVE Arcade with a decent campaign in length and a set of unlockable VR Console mini-games to keep you pounding away for hours on end (if not days). It is also one of the most exciting Summer of Arcade titles to be released due to the fame of the original; absolute die-hard fans of the classic might feel a little robbed with the change in difficulty settings because there is a lot of hand-holding as a better way of terminology on the easier settings. As a platformer it’s a great remake in the visual sense with varied gameplay difficulties and a bargain at only 800 MS Points – but as a testament to the original, it has been dumbed down considerably and it is going to be far easier than what gamers are going to be anticipating!
In Conclusion, TMNT: Out of the Shadows is an OK attempt at adapting the new Ninja Turtles in game form. The fact that it’s only 1.7 GB and 16 people individually put out this much effort into an Arcade game is truly commendable but it doesn’t do anything to make you forget or overlook the annoying bugs and glitches, not to mention the hideous camera views. Let’s give it a 6.5 out of 10 and move on to other things. Pizza anyone?
On the whole it hasn’t been the Summer of Arcade we were expecting, given that only Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, was the only exceptional game of the lot! Charlie Murder is great as a co-op game, but dull on its own – Flashback is an average platformer in a remade skin, whilst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just as well give up and stay beneath the sewers!
Of everything we have played in this years Summer of Arcade, make sure that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is on your playlist! Going on past history I’d expect to see some reductions on all games in the New Years Xbox LIVE Specials, but you’ll never know until closer to the time.
The Xbox LIVE Arcade Summer of Arcade is coming to a close with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows released tomorrow, Wednesday 28th August. To close of this years great selection of games and to experience some of that “Cowabunga” action – tune into Polaris on Youtube!
Microsoft Studios has teamed up with several popular YouTube gamers to host a live streaming gameplay event showcasing each week’s new release, and this Wednesday, Lisa Foiles will be hosting the final live show of the summer at 3pm PST, previewing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. The live event will also feature JesseCox, Raychul Moore and GameGrumps. Visit http://www.youtube.com/Polaris to stream the show.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows launches August 28th check you local dashboard for pricing as the game is a 1200 MS Points equivalent in local currency.
Below are previous events for past Summer of Arcade games, and look out for our review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows soon!
To ramp up the Summer of Arcade promotions on Xbox LIVE – Xbox has reached out to us to share with our readers details of the new live streaming events to celebrate each of the games in the Summer of Arcade 2013 line-up.
Microsoft Studios has teamed up with several popular YouTube gamers to host a live streaming gameplay event showcasing each week’s new release. Lisa Foiles will be hosting the live shows every Wednesday in August at 3pm PST, previewing that week’s new release. The live events will also feature JesseCox, Raychul Moore and GameGrumps – via Youtube.com/polaris
As a reminder here is the Summer of Arcade line-up on the Xbox LIVE Arcade for 2013.
Brothers: a Tale of two Sons – available now for 1,200 Points
Guide two brothers on an epic journey. Control both at once with each thumb stick in co-op play like never before. Explore puzzles, varied locations and fight boss battles.
Charlie Murder – available now for 800 Points
Fallen punk rock idols Charlie Murder must face off against rival death metal band Gore Quaffer and their army of the damned in an RPG brawler hybrid inspired by coin-op beat ‘em ups and dungeon crawlers.
Flashback – launches August 21st for 800 Points
Conrad B. Hart of the G.B.I. is re-enlisted for the return of an acclaimed gaming franchise. Uncover an alien conspiracy, getting through complex & deadly environments.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – launches August 28th for 1,200 Points
TMNT: Out of the Shadows returns to how it all began. Become the four turtles fighting to save New York City from mutants, the Foot & Shredder.
If you buy any two Summer of Arcade games this year you’ll receive a Souls Pack for Ascend: Hand of Kul, absolutely FREE!
Ska Studio’s latest offering on the Xbox LIVE Arcade is the insanely frustrating Charlie Murder and forms part of the Summer of Arcade line-up for 2013 as the second title in the promotion which is available now on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. Featuring the unique art style from the developers’ of other hit titles such as The Dishwasher and the unforgettable indie hit I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1NIT!!!1, Charlie Murder has a comic-book style visual quality where you take on the role of fallen punk rock idols who must face off against a rival death metal band.
As it goes for action and brawling, Charlie Murder is quite heavy on the enemy front with a horde of 2D zombie creatures and odd looking beings coming towards you from all directions of the screen. There are plenty of on-screen what-the-fuck-moments to keep you button mashing to the max and a rather hefty selection of Boss Battles to keep you occupied until your eyes pop out on stalks! Although it is very arty in its styling, it is also quite brutal with bloodied scenes of hand-drawn violence featuring decapitations, arms and legs in a mess everywhere – cannibalism too! Beating the undead folk with their own arms, using knives, picking up guns, swords, Ninja’s kicking in from here there ‘n’ everywhere; so as you can likely tell from my description it fast soon becomes a battle of survival with an insane mix of mini-games thrown in for good measures to break up the horde. It doubles up as a test of patience and perseverance, but whilst I played the game mostly in solo you are free to bring in your friends and go for an all-out four player murder spree as each player can take on the role of a different band member.
One of the most noticeable game styles of Charlie Murder is that it plays very Old-Skool, in the way that my first impression would be to describe the game as a Golden Axe filled with Emo’s. I know they’re defined as Punk Rockers in the game, but you’ll think EMO!!! It is also quite difficult in terms of gameplay in that it doesn’t offer a constant set of save points, but it does have a reminiscence to real Arcade games where you have to actually put the effort in to get anywhere near to completion. If you die it’s a matter of starting all over again too from the beginning of the section you’re at; but a good tip is never quit to menu at all costs since you will have to start the entire thing from scratch! This of course not only adds frustration, but more longevity – in a positive way of course!
The main story seems to be about survival and rivalry between bands as rock band Charlie Murder puts you on a quest to save the world from rival death metalers Gore Quaffer and their legions of evil who are the main enemies you face on screen. It also has an RPG-esque take on it where you can find collectibles, buy and sell goods, level up your character, use special abilities which grant you unique ways to perform amazing kills en-mass, and unlock items using an in-game Windows Phone as scan out QR codes! It is a genius mix of punk rock meets 90’s style arcade game retro beat-em-up, and as far as beat-em-ups goes this is pretty damn decent, but not without its gripes because it will make you frustrated in a way that you will want to bash your TV in with the controller, or throw your Xbox out of the window – when you do inevitably die it sadly is the end of your journey and a real “that’s it”, proving just how used to a flurry of save points we are as gamers. Each of the Bosses too require a tactical thinking strategy to your approach, if you rush in and just beat the X button to a pulp on your controller you will die without thinking it through. It’s so very easy to die so many times.
Due to the RPG nature of the game, it does allow for Skill Points to be earned for defeating Bosses and killing enemies amongst “many” other things, but you can choose to allocate these points to improve your Strength, Defence and Speed which should allow you stay alive for longer if wisely allocated. The better you become, and the more points you acquire should thankfully keep you going that little bit longer. Health Hearts are scattered around here, there and everywhere as well coins to build up you cash status so that you can make in-game purchases for apparel that can offer advantages to your fighting style and survival techniques.
I would say on the whole it is an excruciatingly difficult game to beat on one sitting. However I can confirm how much more fun this game is for co-operative action. It looks as though it was solely built for a great four player experience among friends to enjoy as playing alone with such a difficult quest did prove to feel really repetitive. In the early stages of the game it felt lack-lustre, just button mash and move-on because it’s just a case of messing with the X and Y buttons! Then you visit the sections where you get to control vehicles, defeat giant Burgers, partake in the mini games, and jump about defeating ninja’s to their deaths. You’ll roam streets filled with shops, grave yards with deadly witches and by that point you’ve been reeled in so much you just want to try and beat it!
For 800 MS Points (or cash equivalent) it is a worthwhile purchase if only to play the game in co-operative mode. As a standalone single player going solo you are likely to feel frustrated and annoyed by the lack of save points that one more try will soon just become losing the will to live. Amazing how a game can be transformed into a super improved experience when there are more players in the game co-operatively beating the hell out of the evil horde together and sharing in the misery of a lack of save points. It works well and I am not intentionally dissing the lack of saves as it positively enhances the survival experience and brings home the memories of how games used to play with that “just another go” frame of mind.
Starbreeze Studio’s, the development team behind Payday and the upcoming Payday 2 has created something a whole world away from any first person shooter with a magical enchanting adventure on the Xbox LIVE Arcade today – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The game kicks off the 2013 Summer of Arcade promotion and delivers a high quality adventure that follows in the footsteps of Braid and LIMBO with a sense of mystery and adventure in its settings across dark fairy tale landscapes. Having been impressed by the E3 2013 trailer in June I was more than happy to accept a review from the publisher 505Games.
Only once a year do we get to receive such masterpieces on the Xbox LIVE Arcade that make you feel all warm inside as you ponder down a path that tries to take hold of your senses and emotions, where something so bright and fuzzy could be dangerous and deceptive all at the same time. As cute and magical as the world within Brothers’ appears, not everything is quite as it seems and the journey that lies ahead is an art form of the trust between two siblings on the same path. The dark miserable undertone of death is present just about everywhere as the journey begins showing you the drowning of your mother, then the immediate sudden illness of your father who can only be saved with the Water of Life which then becomes the heart and soul of your determined journey. It is presented as an artistic story driven platformer over nine playable chapters. It is a short game but you will appreciate everything it throws at you with some scenes mesmerising and hypnotic to view.
As the main objective of your adventure is to collect the Water of Life from a magical tree far out in the mythical landscape ahead, your adventure filled experience requires you to control both brothers at the same time. This is not a co-operative game that can allow another player to control one brother whilst you control the other, but you must action and interact with both brothers together at almost all times. This includes making them both walk, jump, swing, hold on to ledges, climb and everything else you can imagine from videogame character control. As difficult as it may sound from my impression, and it will definitely first appear awkward in the opening prologue of the game because I felt my brain could only concentrate on controlling one character. However, thanks to the simplistic control scheme where you only use the Analogue sticks and Triggers, it was very easy to get used to and fast became responsive.
Each of the brothers has their own quirky unique ways too despite very little narrative, they do tend to call out to each other and portray a sense of closeness. The older brother is the stronger and braver of the two who you will use to pull levers and manoeuvre heavy objects. He can be controlled with the left stick on the controller whereas the younger brother who is more fearful, shorter and weaker can be controlled with the right stick on your controller. To get an idea of each brother’s personality and traits you can interact with nearby objects that do not form part of the completion process, or just random people that you see standing around in villages by interacting with them; each brother will perform separate actions that will allow you to see how the older brother is less mischievous than his younger sibling. So you might now get the gist with the controls that to walk forward and to progress you must therefore move both the left and the right stick forward at the same time otherwise one brother will not go very far without the other! Interaction and environmental objects to play with or control are managed through the Trigger buttons, where the left Trigger will perform the interaction for the older brother and the right Trigger will manage the younger brother. Throughout the whole game your experience is about moving forward and interacting in the correct manner, it’s as if you have to communicate with the two brothers through your own control pad by mirroring their required action sequences in game.
I often believe that a great game can also be judged by how it makes you feel when you are playing it, how you are hooked into the story, immersed, or simply astounding by visual beauty of the world created by the development team. Brother’s for its artistic scenery and settings will amaze you as one of my very thoughts was that it felt as if PlayDead Studio’s 2010 XBLA Hit LIMBO had been brought to life in colour and 3D. It’s not as if Brother’s resembles the same experience all that much but controlling a child (or children in this case) through a dark world with dangerous obstacles and deathly consequences is a centrepiece of both – and also defeating giant Spiders! Where LIMBO was more challenging by learning the experience through your own death count, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has the better adventure through the genius of controlling two characters as well as an overall memorable journey experience; and additionally in my opinion it has knocked LIMBO off its perch as the most outstanding start to a Summer of Arcade line-up.
As you wonder innocently through the chapters, the overhead 3d perspective views will take you to small villages, underground levels laden with traps and the homeland of Giants, magical owls to free and fly with in the skies, head out on icy rivers with whales and a constant stream of near death experiences as you run, jump, escape, save, salvage, row a boat and become just glued to every in-game moment of the adventure. Backdrops and all the other people within them are flowing naturally as if it’s a living breathing natural world. The art form of the forests and mountains are of an outstanding impression to make the game feel every bit as a magical experience as it is. One of the main highlights was during one chapter where both brothers tied a rope to each other and through interaction and carefully timed movements flees a giant castle and persevere through the destructing environment together where you have to sharply think about controlling both players’ actions. Both brothers’ support each other in different ways, the younger brother can use the length of the rope to swing to another location whilst the older brother is supporting. The younger brother can also slip through bars to unlock and open gates to allow the older brother to distract or pull heavy leavers. The developers have completely made it a game of teamwork and it feels as though two different sides of your brain are trying to work out how to fluidly control the two of them at the same time.
The gameplay experience is definitely enhanced by the requirement of a single player controlling both characters at the same time, by thinking how one brother needs to help the other and work as a team. It also slows down the pace by ensuring you do not rush through the game, even though this weird kind of fantasy fairytale can be completed in around 5 hours. With no multiplayer or co-operative modes, Brother’s only form of replay ability is to revisit the chapters and find your missing Achievements to unlock. All Achievements are unlocked by interacting with objects and environmental set pieces that may or may not seem obvious at first glance. Some will unlock naturally with progression, but others you will need to seek and find if you haven’t managed to interact and play with absolutely everything that is “unique” within a chapter.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an exceptional game that is artistically beautiful and enchanting to play. The adventure takes the player on a journey that will tug at your heart strings in a game that is original and a true experience that will keep you glued to your screens. A game that reiterates quality over quantity could not be a truer word spoken.
One of the best Xbox LIVE Arcade games to date for 2013 and a strong start for the Summer of Arcade this year!
As soon as 5th Cell’s first entry into the third-person shooter genre with Hybrid was released this week – it was later pulled due to server errors and now alas all is corrected, but was the wait worth it, and does Hybrid bring to the table what others cannot? In a word – no. It’s an absolute bore-fest and an over-priced load of futuristic scrap metal. Continue reading Summer of Arcade 2012: Hybrid Review→
The second title in this year’s Summer of Arcade line-up, Wreckateer from Iron Galaxy Studios takes a stab at re-inventing the aim-shoot-destroy approach. Although it has been more compared to be a 3D take on the massively popular Angry Birds game, all this throwing and knocking things down malarkey more or less started as a game in fairgrounds of the late 1800’s in the form of the Coconut Shy, where you throw wooden balls at a coconut on stands in the distance and aim to hit it until it falls off, gaining a prize for a clear hit! Continue reading Summer of Arcade 2012: Wreckateer Review→
The Tony Hawk game series hit shaper stardom all those years ago on the first Playstation to then be chewed up, moved away from its skating routes and placed into a type of semi retirement, thanks to a rather slow and steady delve into mediocrity. Old games wrapped in an HD title have never really done anything for me, as they tend to ruin the nostalgia and memories of games that are cherished. Thankfully, to my surprise, Tony Hawk’s new lick of paint, and the fact that its core playing system has still be kept intact, means that the Summer of Arcade kicks off with a bang, rather than a whimper. Continue reading Summer of Arcade 2012: Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD Review→