Generally, summer is a slow time for video games, but not when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade where it's harvest season! In the last month, there have been at least four great games released on XBLA, with Bastion getting the lion's share of the attention. But the remaining three are pretty awesome, as well, and should help you while away the time spent indoors away from the brain frying heat sweeping the U.S.
In it, you play as God's Breath, the chosen deity of a small tribe. You must help the tribe solve problems by moving sand, water and lava about to reform land masses, rivers and other geological features. The graphics are really pretty, and I found it easy to get sucked in. The downfall? There is almost zero action. The game is really about land engineering, sometimes under threat of natural disasters and other dangers. But still, this game presents land engineering and in an accessible and fun way, though a game about moving land around isn't for everyone.
After four long years of development, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is finally upon us. Conceived by French artist Michel Gagne and game company FuelCell in Seatlle, it's a Metroidvania game with beautiful art and cool spaceships. If you don't like Metroidvania games, you probably won't like this. But for those who do, this is a very solid game.
You play the whole game in a flying saucer, which means you can fly freely and unlimited from the very beginning. That alone sets it apart from all of the other XBLA titles, but the interesting puzzle system and perfect presentation turn it into a really entrancing experience, especially played by oneself in the dark.
Representing Japan we have Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, the first console version of the PSP classic Half-Minute Hero, which I had been eagerly awaiting for for some time, since the PSP is a dead system and and not worth buying. It does not disappoint.
Each level is like a self-contained Final Fantasy 1 RPG, complete with towns, dungeons, monsters, items and bosses, but adds the half-minute element, giving players only 30 seconds to complete each level. Time stops in towns and can be reset, but the end result is that each level is a puzzle. The goal is to figure out how to accomplish all that you can accomplish in the world as efficiently as possible. A self-deprecating sense of humor complements the offbeat gameplay and cartoony graphics. It's an experience unlike anything that RPGs or puzzle games have offered before. Any fan of these types of games should feel right at home here.