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Splosion Man: An Amusing Blast

XBLA Summer of Arcade 2009 - A Look Back

While so many of the retail games that we see today bring us into the third dimension with their action, I am quite pleased to see that all of the games from the XBLA Summer of Arcade largely stick to the second-dimension for the controls. There’s just something to be said about the nostalgic value of this kind of configuration and it’s just perfect for a season of arcade games.

Splosion Man may take on the appearance of a rather standard 2D platformer, but it’s actually quite creative in its implementation. You don’t run out of lives and you don’t have to mess with complicated controls. There aren’t even separate buttons for jumping and attacking, since the only thing that Splosion Man can do is explode.

XBLA Summer of Arcade 2009 - A Look Back

I guess he’s some kind of experiment gone horribly wrong and he’s trying to escape from these evil scientists and their evil laboratory. Instead of presenting a typical enemy-based challenge, Splosion Man is much more of a puzzle game than a traditional action game. You have to figure out how to use his ‘splosions to get to the end of the stage and he can only ‘splode up to three times in succession.

Splosion Man is far from being the deepest game in the bunch, but it boasts plenty of charm, a good deal of humor (think Earthworm Jim), and a surprisingly addictive yet simple gameplay mechanic. The multiplayer mode mixes it up for even more fun. It sells for 800 MS Points.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Shadow Complex: Metal Gear Meets Metroid

XBLA Summer of Arcade 2009 - A Look Back

The guys that developed Shadow Complex are the same guys that made Gears of War, so I had very high expectations for this game. As hard as it may be to believe, this game exceeded my high expectations. Yes, it really is that good.

Powered by the Unreal engine, Shadow Complex makes us of an incredibly innovative 2.5D style. Your character progresses through gorgeous stages in a 2D fashion, but the elements in the background exist in 3D space, including the guards who are shooting at you. Using the right analog stick, you can aim at these guys, just as you would in a 3D first- or third-person shooter.

The stage maps are very reminiscent of Metroid, going through a series of chambers in both horizontal and vertical space. The storytelling and voice acting are very well done, giving you a plot that is even deeper than full retail games. Shadow Complex really sets a new standard in what it means to be a XBLA title and future releases really have their work cut out for them.

XBLA Summer of Arcade 2009 - A Look Back

Shadow Complex sells for 1200 MS Points and it is worth every penny. If the game was a little longer, it could have easily launched as a full retail release.

Overall Rating: 9.0/10

A Solid Summer of Arcade Hits

It’s easy to get excited about the full retail games sold through brick and mortar stores. It’s easy for me to get caught up in Guitar Hero 5 and Tekken 6, but the downloadable world of Xbox Live Arcade is definitely worth of your attention too. The same can be said about PSN (PS3) and the Wii Shop.

You can take the very casual route with avatar games, but this Summer of Arcade was much more enjoyable for me. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 brings back plenty of arcade fighting action and Splosion Man was worth the chuckle, but Shadow Complex really stole the show. If you pick up just one XBLA game, make it Shadow Complex. Seriously. Do it now.

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