Summer of Arcade Awards

So you’ve just gotten that last paycheck from your summer lawn-mowing job, and you’re looking to buy some Xbox LIVE Arcade hotness, huh? Sounds like a good idea, but how would you ever know which ones to choose? Well, you’re in luck! We here at That VideoGame Blog will take you under our wing and lead you to the promise land of golden Arcade goodness. Welcome to the first annual Summer of Arcade awards!

Our first award goes to Castle Crashers. The Behemoth’s epic brawler gets the “Worth The Wait” award because it was just that. Announced over three years ago, the game has had plenty of time to gain some momentum in the games press and it did that in fine style. It also helped that the boys on the dev team decided to let everyone into their world with an all-access developer blog.

The game itself is a monumental achievement. The gameplay is fresh and manages to bring out feelings of nostalgia while breaking new ground at the same time. Dan Paladin’s hand-drawn masterwork give the game a style that is sure to impress even the jaded of gamers. Seeing this action unfold in HD is even more impressive than the stills, which makes this game a true treat for the eyes.

The title also has a lasting appeal that is hard to match on XBLA, local multiplayer is a wild romp and the live networking (when it works) is also a treat. The RPG elements give the gameplay some serious depth and the sheer number of unlockable characters, weapons, and animal orbs is sure to keep you playing well through the winter.

Recommended? Yes

Now, we don’t want to get preachy with you, but we remember playing the NES version of Bionic Commando as kids. At the time the game was one of the best, despite causing many of us to sink deep into a depression that we may have never recovered from. The remake however, is not likely to gain the same kind of dedication from today’s youth, and for good reason.

It’s not that Rearmed is a bad game, in fact by retro-remake standards it’s actually pretty well done. The graphics are crisp and gorgeous, the gameplay stays true to its roots and there’s plenty to do. The only problem is that the game fails to capture the same feeling that the original title dripped of. It’s an intangible that can’t be pinned down, but when it’s there, it’s there, and when it’s not you definitely notice.

The game just isn’t very much fun. There’s something troubling about the controls, while identical to the original’s, that makes the game a title to avoid. In the NES days, there was no way around it, and it’s not like the developers did it just to make you mad. There was only so much you could do with the NES controller and you couldn’t blame that on anything but the technology. Today however, there are so many better options out there that playing a game whose main challenge is to not throw the controller through your TV just isn’t our idea of fun.

Recommended? No