XBox Live Summer of Arcade 2009 Review
By Chris Derosa Thursday, 19 May 2016

Remember when Summers used to be about having free time to play catch up with friends and family, maybe taking a vacation for a while and just enjoying the nice weather in general? Well Microsoft has been making it their duty to help you forget to do those things so you can stay in your room and play the 360 instead. When the new releases at retail are slowing to a crawl in wait for the big Fall releases, XBox Live Arcade fills in the gaps with their biggest and most anticipated titles of the year. With the 2008 campaign being such a huge success that featured hits such as Bionic Commando ReArmed, Braid and Castle Crashers, Microsoft planned an even bigger Summer of Arcade for 2009 to follow up with. Did the lineup match the greatness of last year’s?


‘Splosion Man – From Twisted Pixel Games (developers of The Maw) comes an interesting new take on the traditional 2d sidescroller. ‘Splosion Man was created in an underground lab with the power to…well, explode and destroy anything and everything. The controls are as simple as run and jump up to three times. It boasts 100 levels (50 single player and 50 multiplayer) along with up to 4 player online co-op.
The game also features a great sense of humor, with the psychotic hero of the game yelling out movie quotes and references while killing scientists and bosses along with other humorous cues (like the scientists turning into various types of packaged meat, or a song that’s all about donuts). The difficulty is a bit punishing in the later levels (even with unlimited lives) the main level design stays within the same science lab type of backgrounds which may disappoint some, and the bosses aren’t too special either. But the quirky and well done soundtrack along with the responsive controls and classic styled 2d gameplay will have you hooked until the end and then some. I heartily recommend this one, and hopefully Twisted Pixel will work on a sequel.
Verdict – GREAT


Marvel VS Capcom 2 – The finest installment in Capcom’s VS. series is still played among fighting enthusiasts in tournaments all over, but a console version of the game hasn’t seen the light of day since it was poorly sent to the PS2 and original XBox. There’s not too much of a graphical overhaul in this port (unless you’re really paying attention) but the real draw here should be in online play finally being possible for the U.S. (Japan’s Dreamcast version had an online mode). Every one of the 56 characters from the Marvel and Capcom universe is unlocked right from the get go, and of course the amazingly cheese-tastic soundtrack is back in full force.
There’s a really unbalanced roster in this 3 on 3 fighter when you look at it from a higher level of competition, and it can be frustrating playing against certain characters that keep away with projectiles, but if you just play for fun and with friends there shouldn’t be much of a problem with that. Other than the sound being incredibly lower than other Arcade titles (no idea why), it’s a perfect port. Some veterans might be tired of the game by now, but it is worth looking into just because it finally has online play, which is surprisingly smooth considering how hectic the screen can get. For people who never played this before, it’s a great chance to experience what I think is one of the most fun 2d fighters ever.
Verdict – GREAT


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-shelled – This game is a full 3d visual

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remake of the old school arcade beat-em-up classic in the TMNT series (back when it was, you know, a great series). But the visuals weren’t the only thing redone. Some gameplay changes were made along with a new soundtrack and of course online co-op.
The visuals are ok enough but nothing special. The soundtrack is decidedly not as spectacular as the original’s was. The playing field is more of a 2.5D plane now which makes for some weird diagonal attacks that take some time getting used to. The auto-scrolling levels are more annoying than ever. Yet I found myself playing through this a lot. Probably because the spirit of the original is still present enough to make it worth playing, and the characters/bosses are classic. It was an interesting move to try an upgrade like Bionic Commando ReArmed did so well, but I think porting the original would have worked just fine.
Verdict – OKAY


Trials HD – This physics based motorcycle racer relies heavily on destructive and insane courses. While it has around 50 challenging courses along with some fun short skill games it also has a course designer. You can even share your creations with friends, allowing for lots of replay value once you’re done with the base levels. Think of it as a full 3d “line rider” and you can kind of see where this is heading.
When the ragdoll physics combine with the breaking of bones whenever you crash your bike, tons of laughs are to be had. Some races even reward you by blowing you up after you finish the course. The beginning tracks are fun but the later courses however get very rough, with lots of braking/shifting weight/speed at the right time involved, all while controlling a specific bike with certain stats. Thankfully there are a good amount of checkpoints throughout the levels, but for those going for no crashes and gold medals it gets frustrating fast. The course editor has lots of possibilities but unfortunately you can only share/play creations with friends. Also there are no co-op modes, just a live leaderboard which shows your friend’s time on the screen while you’re racing to see where you compare which is a nice little feature but doesn’t come with ghosts or anything like that. The skill games are fun diversions but are over fast. In general the game is a bit too light on content/replayability, especially if you don’t have many friends to share/compare with, but it is an enjoyable little game while it lasts.
Verdict – GOOD


Shadow Complex – Just like last year’s lineup of Live Arcade, this year’s Summer ends with the most anticipated release. Chair Entertainment (developers of Undertow) and Epic collaborated to make a “Metroidvania” styled 2.5d shooter called Shadow Complex. When playing through this you’ll really see how devoted Chair was to making this game as addictive and satisfying as the classic Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night.
The gameplay is indeed very nostalgic. You’ll start the game with practically nothing then slowly build up an arsenal of weapons and upgrades which should ring a bell to any player that went though the Metroid games. There’s hidden items everywhere and certain doors that you can only unlock with certain weapons. There’s a

good amount of boss fights, and you always want to see what’s beyond the next section when you unlock it on the huge map that you’re given. All in all you’ll have 8 full hours of gameplay the first time and loads of replayability if you’re willing to try the harder difficulties or variety of achievements such as speedrunning or completing the game with a low amount of items.
However it’s far from perfect. Some enemies show up in the background as well as the plane that you’re standing on, and the auto-aiming works sometimes but not always the way you want it to when it has to decide between the two dimensions. The story really doesn’t go anywhere, so don’t expect something like a Metal Gear Solid type of epic. While there are a good amount of bosses, there’s not too much variety in how to defeat them and the final boss, along with the ending afterward, is a disappointment. I was also a bit bothered with the map not having enough connecting areas or shortcuts which made backtracking for missed items a bit troublesome and time consuming.
But those are really small complaints when you take everything in at once and start to look at how polished and enjoyable the game really is. The point here was for Chair to bring a classic formula to life with a new franchise, and I have to say they absolutely succeeded.
Verdict – CLASSIC

‘Splosion Man was played to completion in single player and halfway through the

campaign on multiplayer co-op. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 was played through 100 online ranked matches. Turtles in Time was played through story mode and survival mode both in single player and multiplayer on normal and hard. Trials HD was played up to halfway on medium along with the first tournament in full and the first 5 skill games. Shadow Complex was played through on Hard and 100% on Normal along with the proving grounds being completed.

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