This Wednesday marks the start of the fifth annual Summer of Arcade, in which five of the most interesting/ marketable digital download games in Microsoft’s schedule are squished together into a weekly random mega-promotion.
This is good news for those of us who live in the UK, a land now abandoned by all sun and warmth, where download games provide pretty much the only window we have into worlds blessed by summertime, hope and happiness. Come back Super Mario Sunshine: all is forgiven.
This year there’s added incentive in the form of 400 MSP for those of us who buy any three games in the promotion, which is more than enough to keep your Xbox avatar in fugly video game branded t-shirts over the summer months.
It is, as ever, an eclectic selection of games, and Hookshot Inc’s here to tell you what to look forward to and when.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD
Available July 18
1200 MS Points
Neversoft’s seminal 3D skateboarding game – originally released for PlayStation in 1999 – attempted to capture skating’s essence rather than its exact detail. The game stretched the boundaries of physics to allow players to execute flips, spins and tricks impossible to recreate in real life, but that somehow felt as though they should be possible to recreate in real life, if only one were as skilled and dexterous as Tony Hawk.
This remake mashes together the ‘best levels’ from the first game and its sequel, and the chance to combo an unending trick across miles of concrete is a welcome one after Skate’s – admittedly brilliant – more realistic take on the hobby.
Available July 25th
800 MS Points
‘Angry Birds with Kinect’ is the ungenerous description of Wreckateer due to be written many times over the coming weeks. But it is, of course, only half of the story in this game of medieval demolition in which you fire giant arrows from a Baillista to bring down goblin strongholds.
It may not be the serious interactive application that that Kinect’s scientists envisaged, but the sharp focus and quickfire mechanics could make this a motion-controlled game that’s worth the effort. And there’s not a pig in sight.
Available August 1st
1200 MS Points
Tequila Works’ (as Will pointed out: Tequila NEVER works) Deadlight is a game we’ve been watching for some time – a survival platformer set – you’ve guessed it – after the zombie apocalypse (you can always count on a double dip recession to provide a cultural surplus of zombie fiction).
Aesthetically somewhere between Shadow Complex and Limbo, Deadlight is the 10-ton new IP of Summer of Arcade, hoping to replicate the success of some of the greats to have gone before. It certainly has the looks to inspire, not to mention a team of veterans who has worked on Motorstom, Castlevania: Lord of Shadows, Heavy Rain, Overlord 2 and the Commandos series. We’ll let you know what we think of the rest of the game as soon as we think it.
Available August 8
1200 MS Points
Hybrid is one of the lesser-known titles on the Summer of Arcade slate, a somewhat generic looking third person shooter set in the near future where humans (known as Paladins) are locked in conflict with aliens (known as Variants) for world supremacy.
Musty premise aside, the online, faction-based meta-game looks interesting, although whether a humble XBLA title can compete long term against the blockbuster console releases in the competitive third person online shooter genre seems unlikely. Still, there’s something Vanquish-esque about the trailer, which can only be a good thing. If Hybrid can replicate a fraction of the feel of Platinum Games’ title, then we’re IN.
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Available August 15
1200 MS Point
Dust is undeniably the most handsome game of the set. The title effortlessly stood out from the crowd on the show floor at E3 this year, when we first saw its pin-sharp visuals in motion. A scrolling beat ‘em up in the tradition of Treasure’s Guardian Heroes, Dust boasts exquisite 2D character design and animation, matching Vanillaware’s best work for finesse.
As ever in a genre that encourages button mashing, the question remains as to whether the game’s beauty is only skin deep – but we’re hopeful that there’s complexity beneath the prettiness.