Xbox live arcade games have become some of my favorites to play during the last two years. The risks they are willing to take in both styling and gameplay is what sets them apart from the mainstream titles. Plus, their short, action packed, and creative levels make for a level of replayablity that is unmatched. Here are some of the highlights from this years offerings.
Joe Danger is a game that I have loved since its introduction to the market 2 years ago. A simple side scrolling motorbike racing game, similar to the golden years of excite bike, mixed together with stunts and obstacles makes for levels of fun unmatched. We played the original title for hours on end, handing off the controller to see who could surpass the other in achieving millions and millions of points. With the introduction of new vehicles like unicycles, jet packs, downhill skis, etc. this years addition brings new twists on one of my favorites. Add to this the premise of shooting a feature film, with plot lines and scenes that need to be shot, and you get a game that will more then meet its expectations for the price of admission.
Avatar Motocross Madness, a reboot from the original Motocross Madness game, You might expect to play the same as Joe Danger but you would be wrong. This game is more about the race then the stunts. Only using them as a means to gain more boost so you can surpass your opponents at blazing speeds. However it is not only limited to racing, with the addition of an open world style freestyle gameplay mode. Levels spanning across its three different worlds, give you a chance to establish your own trail and choose your own style of play.
If action sports isn't your thing, let me introduce you to Mark of the Ninja (Klie entertainment). A game which is the first successful stealth based side scroller I had played. With its unique silhouetted gameplay, using darkness and light to hide and expose your character, it brings suspense and patience to a platformer style of game. Using assassination kill strikes, ninja stars, and diversionary tactics you must fend off the invading SWAT style opponents from your home turf. It's use of color and sound to illustrate what affect your movements are having on the opponents around you is what makes this game a winner.
With a similar cartoon like aesthetic,but different style of gameplay Skulls of the Shogun is a top choice as well. Normally turn based strategy games bore, but this one keeps you yearning to play. With humor in dialogue, and a creative Asian based visual appeal, this game brings fun into the gaps of time which normally occupy a turn based game. Eating your opponents skulls to regain health, recruiting allies to your cause, while battling our way to your eternal prize in the afterlife, your Samurai must gain his worth. —Nick Lattner / Juxtapoz Video Game Editor
Photos / Videos Nathan Smith