Summer of Arcade Awards

The first Geometry Wars title, while being “merely” a downloadable title, was one of the very earliest reasons to pick up an Xbox 360. The sequel does not disappoint and despite a troubling trend of Wii and DS titles that may or may not have been milking the namesake, GW2 comes through it all without a speck of dust on its face.

There are so many good things to be said about GW2 that it’s hard not to start sounding like a little kid trying to get your friend to buy your new favorite game, but we’ll try our best to keep it simple. The game looks phenomenal, it plays even better, and will likely cause you to lose a couple of nights sleep without even realizing it.

Perhaps the greatest part of the game is the fact that you now have six times the modes of the first title, which already seemed like more than enough at the time. Our personal favorite is King, but you’ll surely develop your own favorite flavor in just a couple of play sessions. GW2 also does something so simple and genius that it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done in the past. The game puts the score and name of your next closest friend in the upper right hand corner so that you always have something to shoot for. Simple? Yes. Incredibly insightful? Definitely.

Recommended? Yes

Here’s the part about the XBLA that we really don’t like; the fact that game companies can’t decide their own release schedules. Basically how it works is a company finishes a game, sends it off for certification and then Microsoft decides to release it whenever they damn well please. That doesn’t sit well with us and it certainly doesn’t benefit titles like Shred Nebula.

You see, had Shred Nebula traded places with, say Geometry Wars 2, we think you’d be hearing a lot more people talk about it. The sad fact is that while SN is certainly a quality title, it fails to make a dent in the saturated Arcade market after the likes of Castle Crashers, GW2 and Braid have already gobbled up hundreds of thousands of gamers’ dollars. Now, to be honest we have no idea if Shred Nebula was even completed in time to have been considered for an earlier release window, but the fact remains that timing is 90% of the battle.

Shred Nebula as a game, however, does many things right. It’s easy to grasp, it’s pretty to look at and the gameplay can either be extremely intense or incredibly relaxing, depending on how you choose to play the game. SN plays like a cross between a pimped out Asteroids remake and Geometry Wars. That’s a pretty good recommendation right there actually, but let us elaborate just a bit. To oversimplify it, you play as pilot of a one-of-a-kind ship that is tasked with exploring space and eliminating baddies who all tend to explode quite nicely. The game plays smooth and what the story lacks in substance, the game makes up for in sheer arcade-style, “grab me another Mt.Dew because I’m going to beat this level” fun.

So, when you find that extra 10-spot in the pocket of your jean jacket, consider this title a cherry on the top of a wonderful summer of gaming.

Recommended? Yes

Let us start off by saying we love Braid. Love it so much it hurts us to think about not recommending it to every man, woman and child who has ever touched a controller, but that’s what we’re about to do. A tear…

Braid is a fantastic puzzle game. Braid is an above-average platformer. Despite being those two very complimentary things, Braid will not please the majority of people who play it. The reason is simple: people won’t be able to appreciate it for what it is. Being gamers our entire lives, we know how good Braid really is. It does things and makes people think in ways that other games could only dream of. However, that does not make it a game that is easy to recommend.

Unfortunately, most people don’t want to be confused while playing a game. We learned this while recommending the game to friends and loved ones. It turns out that we were the only ones who truly appreciated it and were ridiculed for our notion that the game is something that should be experienced by everyone. This is a very perplexing situation, but it bears truth and speaks volumes alongside the sales numbers for titles like Carnival Games. Most people don’t want to think, which is a topic worth exploring, but I won’t be the one to do it. Braid, forgive us…

Recommended? No