In February, Microsoft promoted both its Windows Phone and Xbox Live Arcade releases as Must Have Games. Now they look to follow that promotion up – on Xbox 360 at least – with ‘Arcade Next,’ which runs from April 18 through May 9. At least three of the XBLA games are highly anticipated titles, and all four of them will include 400 GamerScore of Achievements (the new limit for XBLA games). No word on whether there will be an equivalent promotion for Windows Phone Xbox Live games, but it seems unlikely given the ‘Arcade’ moniker.
Head past the break for screens, details, and our impressions of the next four XBLA heavy hitters, including Fable Heroes and Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition.
“Trials Evolution” is on every front, the next dimension of the smash-hit, award-winning “Trials HD.” Bust out of the warehouse into an outdoor world of night and day, curved driving lines, and spectacular scenery. Multiplayer comes alive in your living room or on Xbox LIVE. Build your own tracks with the in-game editor or download those of any other player from the new Track Central. Customize your bike and rider with awesome gear and unique parts, enjoy innovative skill games, try ghost racing, beat your friends’ scores and more! Don’t miss the madness!
Our take: If you liked Jet Car Stunts on Windows Phone, you’ll love the Trials series. Trial-and-error isn’t my thing, but a great many people are crazy about the Trials series.
With a brutal combat system, stunning art style, and a deeply compelling story, “Bloodforge” empowers you to slaughter hordes of demonic soldiers, deformed worshippers, and the gods themselves, using ferocious Rage Kills, devastating Rune attacks, and furious Weapon Combos. Help seal Crom’s fate – and the fate of the rest of the world – in this dark, visceral story of revenge, betrayal, and destiny.
Our take: Bloodforge has come out of nowhere, with very little hype until now. But its impressive and bloody visuals are definitely worth a look. Also, kudos to Climax Studios for naming the protagonist after Conan’s god Crom.
“Fable Heroes” is an action-packed, hack-and-slash adventure built for Xbox LIVE Arcade. It delivers a fresh spin on the “Fable” franchise with a unique art style and gameplay that takes playful competition to the next level. Whether on the couch or using Xbox LIVE, up to four players work together to defeat enemies while also competing with one another to collect gold coins and level up. Precious gold collected in Fable Heroes can be imported into the forthcoming Kinect title, Fable: The Journey, providing players with a valuable head start from day one.
Our take: If you can get past the hideous characters, Fable Heroes looks like an excellent multiplayer beat-em-up. And it’s affordable! Connectivity between Heroes and the next Fable spin-off is cool too.
The infinite possibilities in “Minecraft” just got bigger. “Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition” brings the global phenomenon to console gamers for the first time. The Xbox LIVE Arcade version of the game features an innovative new crafting interface, natural controller movements, a full Tutorial mode to teach the basics and for the first time in “Minecraft,” split-screen multiplayer as well as over Xbox LIVE.
Our take: While Survivalcraft is a suitable Minecraft equivalent on Windows Phone, nothing beats the real thing. The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft probably won’t have the PC version’s extensive modding features, but split-screen, an enhanced controller interface, and Kinect features (promised in a future update) should still make it a console hit. $20 is a lot to pay for a Live Arcade game, but it is a bit cheaper than the PC version, and there will likely be sales down the road.