The End Of Summer

(Of Xbox Live Arcade)

I'm always happier when the summer comes to an end.

Why am I happy at the end? Well let's see. We have the start of football season (in fact at the time of this writing, college football is actually starting,) and in a few weeks I'll be getting ready for hockey and basketball seasons to take off. Then of course there is that little event called VGX that I will once again be covering.(And not to mention that GamerGeeks will be starting our second season in a few weeks, so the fall couldn't come any sooner.)

But with the end of summer, there is also another end that I have to face: and that is the end of an amazing run of titles Microsoft rewarded their fans with. The program was called the "Summer of Arcade," and was a collection of near triple-A, highly anticipated downloadable games that rivaled many retail releases.

I mean, what other event would begin with the release of Geometry Wars 2? After all this is the sequel of one of the best launch titles on XBLA, and just like the original it is very addictive, and yet so very challenging. Adding five additional modes to the original's "Evolved" mode, and I know I'll be playing for a long time, even though "Pacifism" has been taking most of my GW time lately.

The following week we had the time shifting platformer Braid come out. Heck no one expected this game and in the end it became a huge winner for the XBLA lineup. Put it this way, if IGN's Hilary "I hate all things XBLA" Goldstein has something good to say, you know you got a good game on your hands.

The week after we got hit with a double dose of XBLA, one good, one bad. I'll start with the bad. To cash in with the upcoming Fable II, a collection of pub games was released, consisting of Spinnerbox (similar to slots,) Keystone (a dice roulette game,) and Fortune's Tower (a Solitare style game.) I don't really care much for gambling games, and I decided to take a pass on this, thereby saving $10.

But on the other hand the other release I have been waiting a lot time to be released, and that is the remake to one of my most beloved NES titles: Bionic Commando Rearmed. Sure a 2.5D remake of the NES classic would have been enough to win me over, but no, GRIN had to take everything above and beyond what I expected. Not only was the game true to the original, it felt like a whole new game after all the changes, and although the last boss is not as obviously similar to a certain German dictator like on the NES, the way they designed him is just subtle enough to allow me to make my own assumptions. And yes, his head still blows up real good in the end!

A little retro action came the week after, in the form of Galaga Legions. As a huge Galaga fan (I still regret selling my 25th Anniversary arcade cabinet a few years back,) I was really looking forward to seeing how this was going to be done. After all this was the same developers who made Pac-Man Championship Edition, an impressive piece of work in itself and thankfully I was not disappointed at all. But one thing is for sure, the game is tough, and like the classics, only memorization of the Galaga patterns can ensure success.

And now we come to this week, and in my opinion the biggest surprise yet. We have been hearing about The Behemoth's Castle Crashers for quite a while now, and up until yesterday I wasn't really interested in it. I wasn't truly impressed with Alien Homonid HD a few months back, but I still decided to download the trial version.

After a few minutes of play I realized I was playing an updated version of a true Saturn "treasure," Guardian Heroes. All I needed was the undead soldier to return and I'd be in heaven. (Until I found out about the animal orbs which almost worked the same way as the Undead One.)

And yes, I ended up purchasing it.

But not including Rock Band tracks, which I still am getting on a regular basis, I have to wonder how much I spent on Live titles during this amazing run:
Geometry Wars 2-$10, Braid-$15, Fable 2 Pub Games-$0 (I passed on it),Bionic Commando Rearmed-$10, Galaga Legions-$10 and Castle Crashers-$15.

That is a total of just $60!

To think that I purchased five amazing downloadable titles for the cost of one retail game. This truly has been the "Summer of Arcade," even beating out the summer movie season which has dried up over the past month.

Then again, maybe it was good that Harmonix delayed the Rush "Moving Pictures" album, because I'd really be hurting money wise if it came out yesterday. They can hold it off until Rock Band 2 is released because I know I'll be playing 85 other songs in the meantime.

Currently Playing: Madden 20th (Xbox 360,) Castle Crashers (XBLA)

Waiting for: Rush "Moving Pictures" Album DLC (Rock Band/Xbox 360,) Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360)

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