New on XBLA this week (4/16/08)

Microsoft has blessed us with another two new Xbox LIVE Arcade titles this week, though whether or not you’ll care about either one is doubtful. Both Rocky & Bullwinkle and Battlezone hit the Marketplace on Wednesday.

Rocky & Bullwinkle is yet another of Microsoft’s arguably misguided attempts at capturing that oh-so-attractive casual gamer demographic. Featuring over 100 microgames (25 of which utilize the Xbox Vision camera), and 12-player hotseat multiplayer action, Rocky & Bullwinkle is designed to bring the family together for some wholesome, cartoony antics. And while Russian spies dropping bombs on a moose and a squirrel is certainly wholesome, it’s not so much fun. Microgames are best enjoyed in rapid succession, a la WarioWare, as opposed to separated by two menu screens each, a la this game. Breaking up the action so much really highlights the shallowness of each individual game, and 800 points is an awful lot for a cobbled together collection of shallow games. Rocky & Bullwinkle exudes a classic charm, however, and who knows, maybe it would be fun for the whole family.

Capitalizing on the nostalgia of the coin-op generation is the arcade ‘classic’, Battlezones. I call it a ‘classic’ because I’m not old enough to think this game was ever good. This XBLA title, like other such remakes, boasts updated graphics. These new graphics are nothing to write home about, except when compared to the also-included original graphics, which make my eyes want to die. Also included is four-player multiplayer with Xbox LIVE Vision support, so you can watch your grandpa pilot his lumbering tank while you wish you were playing Halo. The package retails for 400 Microsoft space bucks.

While Rocky & Bullwinkle might be fun if you have a family, I’d recommend skipping both of these titles. Instead, check out last week’s release, Treasure’s highly-acclaimed Gamecube sleeper, Ikaruga. If you have any love for shoot-em-ups whatsoever (or even if you don’t), you should really give it a try. For a game that still goes for over $30 on ebay, it’s well worth the 800 point asking price. It’s certainly a better value than this week’s releases.