Hydro Thunder Hurricane was developed by Vector Unit and published by Microsoft Game Studios for XBLA on July 28, 2010. It retails for 1200 Microsoft Points.
The original Hydro Thunder was a favorite in local arcades during the late 90s. The rush of boosting a fantastical speedboat through intense waters and hitting massive jumps struck a nerve in me that most other arcade games failed to do. For those with fond memories from the arcade excitement peaked when a new Hydro Thunder was announced for Xbox Live Arcade, developed by Vector Unit.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane, the first true sequel to the original arcade game, manages to reignite old love for the arcade original. When it comes to the basics, Vector Unit nailed the feel of the original, from the crazy courses down to the way the speedboats handle. Every speedboat that from the original is in HTH, and the inspired courses will evoke feelings of familiarity from Hydro Thunder veterans.
Of course, neat graphical touches remind us that the Hydro Thunder series has been improved quite a bit since the arcade days. Things like dynamic wave effects look awesome in high definition on XBLA, as do water droplets that form on the screen after a gnarly jump. Each boat now has a cool transforming animation once its boost is active. Seeing boats transform from their standard appearance to reveal massive exhaust pipes that spew fire provides a lovely and empowering feeling.
Deadliest Warrior: The Game was developed by Pipeworks Software and published by Spike Games for XBLA on July 14, 2010. Retails for 800 Microsoft Points.
When I think of Spike TV, The Ultimate Fighter and endless reruns of CSI are immediately transfused in to my recollection. What lies between the cage fighting and continuous autopsies is a show about putting yesterdays warriors up against each other in a scientific manner to see who would leave the fight alive; that show is called Deadliest Warriors. With a cult following and the success of the show, what better way to rejuvenate our imagination than to make a game where we can depict our shameless childlike interest in history's baddest of bad asses.
Blacklight: Tango Down was developed by Zombie Studios and published by Ignition Entertainment for XBLA on July 14, 2010. Retails for 1200 Microsoft Points. A download code of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
What if the rumors of a futuristic setting for Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty were right? It might’ve looked very much like Zombie Studio’s Blacklight: Tango Down. While the game was praised by many at E3 for it's high price/quality ratio, the result is definitely remarkable for a downloadable title, packing a decent fast paced punch for a low budget multiplayer shooter.
Puzzle Quest 2 was developed by Infinite Interactive and published by D3 Publisher for XBLA on 6/30/2010. Retails for 1200 Microsoft Points. A download code for the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
Let’s start this review by asking ourselves, is there still a profitable market for puzzle games? During a time when 3D graphics are the new craze, awe-inspiring virtual physics are praised, and motion-controlled gimmicks try to make things a little bit more noobish, will there be any room left for the puzzle enthusiasts? Infinite Interactive has the answer to that. In 2007, they released Puzzle Quest, which became an instant hit amongst critics and gamers. PQ respectively took home a couple of awards, Gametrailers "Best Puzzle/Parlor Game" and Gamespy’s "Best Xbox Live Arcade Game.” So, with those accomplishments in mind, what could they possibly do to follow-up the success that Puzzle Quest had? Make another one.
Risk: Factions was developed by Stainless Games and published by Electronic Arts. It was released June 23, 2010 and retails for 800 Microsoft Points. A download code for the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
Classic card and board games like Carcassonne, Catan and Uno have fared well on Xbox Live Arcade. Using the 360’s awesome online infrastructure and large user base has given these games new life and a constant stream of people willing to play the game together. Risk: Factions is the latest board game to make the transition to XBLA, and the final product is very good.
For the uninitiated, Risk is a turn-based strategy game that features five warring factions: Humans, Cats, Zombies, Robots and Yetis. Players are given a fictional continent to fight over, with the purpose of expanding your own territory while taking over your enemy’s territory and capturing objectives. Dice rolls determine the outcome of a battle, so each one comes down to more chance than raw skill. The game manages to maintain the amount of strategy and risk (no pun intended) the classic game is known and loved for, and streamlines everything so that games don’t last for long periods of time while and adding a welcome touch of humor.
Puzzle Chronicles was developed by Infinite Interactive and published by Konami. It was released on April 21 , 2010 and retails for 800 Microsoft Points. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
Right off the bat, Puzzle Chronicles is going to be compared to Puzzle Quest by almost everyone. But it deserves a moment of our attention. After playing the game for more than 20 hours, Puzzle Chronicles appears to stand on its own as a quirky, simple and fun puzzle game. And after two weeks of trying it out for this review, we're still playing.
Puzzle Chronicles openly admits to its simplicity from the start, only giving you one main character to play the single player game with. Mixing Conan the Barbarian’s cousin with a cookie cutter RPG story, Puzzle Chronicles quickly introduces the player to its distinct puzzle mechanic, which follows an approach similar to classic titles such as Columns and Lumines. Though this might sound like two reasons not to get the game, the developers have managed to give it their own witty twist and turn it into a fun combination with a somewhat cartoony look that might suit younger gamers a bit better.
Doom II was developed by Nerve Software/id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was released on May 26, 2010 and retails for 800 Microsoft Points. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.
Fifteen years ago, Doom II was released on the PC and was at the cutting edge of first-person shooters. Of course, games have gotten exponentially more complicated over the years, but this doesn’t mean that Doom II is unplayable – far from it, actually. The game is still fun and full of personality, even if it is a pixelated mess by today’s high definition standards.