Features Archive


E3 Hands-on: Storming the stylish battlefields of Happy Wars

There are a myriad of reasons — some massive, others minuscule – for wars throughout history. Wars ranging from the disagreement you had with your mother to World War II to the intergalactic alien space combat we’re likely to experience in the near future. No wars have been particularly fun until video games came along, removing the consequences and the guilt of war. Yet still wars are brutal, sad, scary sort of affairs, no matter what your role is in them — and then there’s Happy Wars.

Happy Wars’ pseudo cell-shaded art style (mixed with a bit of watercolor, perhaps) hearkens back to the days of Cel Damage and Jet Set Radio. The zany visuals and overall lighthearted presentation prove war isn’t always depressing and vile. White is pit against black in this 15 vs. 15 multiplayer action game in an effort to capture towers and destroy the enemy team’s castle. Players can pick from a warrior, mage or cleric class and acquire new skills as they level up and attempt to out-maneuver the enemy team.

Our demo was cut into thirds, with a tutorial and gameplay rundown to start, an explanation of the deeper features of the game following that, and lastly a match played to completion on the game’s desert themed level. Read the rest of this entry »


Straw Poll Wednesday: Do you use your controller’s rumble feature?

Do you use your controller's rumble feature?

  • Absolutely. It helps me feel more immersed in the game. (58%, 101 Votes)
  • What? I can turn rumble off? (24%, 42 Votes)
  • Nope, I like my batteries to last more than a few hours, thanks. (9%, 16 Votes)
  • No. It's distracting and even more irritating when it rumbles on a table. (9%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 173

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View from the back — Dungeon Fighter Live: Fall of Hendon Myre

They’re crowding the front of the room on the 54th floor of a Los Angeles hotel, cameras flashing in rapid succession. A small group of men are before them, footage of their last work playing on a large screen. It’s difficult to get a good view of the promo vid that is running while all of the members of the Korean gaming press are nearly tripping over each other to secure the best possible angle from which to grab the perfect shot for their readers back home. The level of excitement among this crowd is palpable, if not completely understandable.

After all, what’s being shown at this point is nothing new, the footage is of 2010′s Dungeon Fighter Online (released in 2005 in Nexon’s home country of Korea). The speakers have thus far provided a nice little history lesson for the uninitiated, but those in attendance have hardly been treated to breaking news or exclusive footage at this point. With more exciting photo ops and demos of this fall’s hottest games vying for attention during E3 week than any one journalist can possibly tackle, why is the foreign press causing such a hullabaloo over a PC game that released seven years ago in their country?

Read the rest of this entry »


E3 Hands-on: Lord of the Rings goes core MOBA in Guardians of Middle-Earth

The Lord of the Rings franchise is no stranger to video game adaptations. Of the many we’ve seen over the years, most of them are translated directly from the fiction into a playable form. We’ve guided Frodo on his journey to Mordor and fought to defend Minas Tirith as Aragorn. Guardians of Middle-Earth is not an adventure but instead a war waged by good and evil in a massive arena.

Guardians of Middle-Earth is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game with many of the genre staples. Unlike other MOBA forays on XBLA (Awesomenauts, Monday Night Combat), Guardians of Middle-Earth is the classic isometric experience complete with three lanes (in the main map), creeps, towers, the whole shabang!

Well. Mostly. There’s no hiding the core MOBA-ness of this game, but the developers at Monolith also want to bring new mechanics to the table and tailor the experience to the console. For instance, you can upgrade your minions and towers, but there’s no shop and there are shrines to fight over which grant buffs. How’s that for new mechanics? Read the rest of this entry »


Contest: Remake the XBLA Fans logo in Minecraft *Ended*

UPDATE: Congrats to XMaloX

As part of our newly designed summer schedule, we are bringing back weekly site contests. We also plan to do more weekly streaming events on Twitch.TV and more community game nights. As always, our daily twitter contests will continue. Make sure you are following @XBLAFans! We are also adding a weekly facebook contest and daily discussion questions on our XBLA Fans FB page. Make sure to join in on that action and let your voice be heard!

Each week we will bring a new contest involving some form of task or challenge. The winner(s) will be random, as we want everyone to have a chance to be involved no matter their skill level at a certain task. Some might involve gaining obscure XBLA achievements. Others will be a little craftier like this week’s Minecraft Cape Challenge (I love puns, sorry).


To enter this week, all you need to do is remake the XBLA Fans Logo in Minecraft. You may use any materials currently found in the XBLA Version of the game. Once you have completed the logo we suggest using the in game Facebook share feature. Grab that URL and post it in the comments below and you are entered! If you don’t have facebook just snapping a picture with a camera phone works too, but we’d love to see the Hi-resolution shot so we can share them in a post with our readers next week!

You may enter as many times as you want and we will count each image as an entry as long as they use new ingredients and are different. The contest will end Friday at 9PM PST.

I’ve put out a call to our friends to see if we might be able to get a few extra codes so we can have more than 1 winner but for now, we only have 1 Minecraft Cape to giveaway. They look flipping awesome.


XBLAFancast Episode 65 – Todd Talks E3

Todd returns from E3 this week, so once we get the new releases out of the way it’s pretty much all Todd all the time. He tells us about some of the games he saw last week, a list of which you can find below. So if you were interested by the XBLA games being shown off last week, odds are we talk about them this week.

Please subscribe, rate and review the podcast on iTunes. We appreciate it! Check us out on twitter (@XBLAFans) where you can win codes for games, give us feedback or just ask a question. We are also now on Stitcher, so you can stream the show on your smartphone, give it a go!

Big thanks to Chris Green for the awesome theme music, be sure to check out his site BlurredEdge and why not follow him on twitter too @BlurredEdge.


RSS | MP3 | iTunes Read the rest of this entry »


E3 Hands-on: Forecast for CastleStorm shows torrent of arrows

Few things are more impenetrable than the mighty castle. Around the 10th century or so, major countries defended their population from sieges with these massive stone structures. Typically castles were constructed several miles apart in strategically superior locations. In CastleStorm, they’re right next door to each other.

Perhaps the real estate was good at the time or maybe the world of CastleStorm is just ridiculously crowded but things get cozy in this 2D tower defense. Your castle has a massive ballista on the front of it, which you use to mow down waves of ground forces and lay siege to the enemy castle. If the one-size-fits-all weapon weren’t enough, you can also dispatch your own forces and use magical abilities to affect the battlefield. Destroy the enemy castle or capture their flag to secure victory.

Real time strategy and the second dimension have blended before with games like Grim Grimoire and Swords & Soldiers, but it’s not the most common of sub-genres. That said, CastleStorm blends the RTS with even smaller genres including artillery shooters (Worms) and tower defense. The resulting smoothie is not only delicious, it offers a unique flavor. Read the rest of this entry »


Minecraft Mondays: Welcome to Vest Tower

We are introducing a very special feature here on XBLA Fans. Each Monday for the foreseeable future, we will be showcasing a community member’s world. If you are interested in being featured, please email Shawn@xblafans.com. If you’re new to the world of Minecraft, check our our introductory guide here and find out what over 2 Million Xbox Live players are going on about.


XBLA Passes the 500 Game Milestone

During all the hoopla of E3, Xbox Live Arcade snuck silently past a rather large milestone as noticed by friend of the site, @Lifelower. Our own XBLA historian, Andrew Crews, confirmed the feat. The above image details all 500 titles, but actually has one slight mistake: it includes 1 vs 100 instead of an actual XBLA title. Can you figure out which?

So congrats to Bang Bang Racing and Virtua Fighter 5 for pushing the platform over the hump. Now if only Microsoft can figure out a way to sell the above image as a poster. We’d all buy a copy! Congratulations to the entire XBLA team and all the developers and publishers — past and present—who have helped shape this platform into what it is today.

Click here for the high-resolution image


What we are playing: June 10

What we are playing is a weekly column published on Sunday. Select members of the team talk about the games they’ve been playing over the past week and which they’re most looking forward to. 

Christine Mitchell - Been playing a load of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Can’t believe the studio went bust, I’m really enjoying it so far.

Nick Santangelo - Like most gamers I’ve long wanted to attend E3. I finally did so for the first time this past week, and it was great. The Big Three conferences were mostly disappointing, but I played a ton of fun game demos, like Hell Yeah!Pid, Borderlands 2, Happy Wars, Hybrid, Quantum Conundrum and Ascend: New Gods. I also played a few that I was less enamored with, such as Resident Evil 6, Hitman Absolution and RAW.

Perry Jackson - Humble Indie Bundle V for me mostly this week. Sworcery and Lone Survivor made it definitely worth the price of admission to get 6 other solid games with it. Oh yeah, that E3 thing happened. It looked pretty cool.

Steve Melton - So close to getting 200/200 on Joy Ride Turbo. What a fun game. Unlock system could have been a bit kinder, though. Other than that I dusted off my Kinect for some Fruit Ninja and Kinect Star Wars.

Matt Liparota - Been a good couple of weeks for gaming for me – I’ve been playing a TON of Diablo III and Max Payne 3, and I finally got around to picking up and playing Bastion. This past week I dove back into Batman: Arkham City with the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC and enjoyed playing as Robin a heck of a lot more than I thought I would. In the coming week I’m hoping to wrap up Max Payne and my first playthrough of Diablo.

Mark Seymour - Only just recovering from a stupor brought on by the most embarrassing trio of E3 conferences in memory; buoyed by reports that there were some exciting games on the floor though. High hopes for Lollipop Chainsaw this week too.

Your turn.

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