Summer of Arcade 2012
Summer of Arcade, Xbox LIVE Arcade’s annual promotion marking the middle of summer every year, turns 5 this year, and looking back over the 19 games released over the previous four years, I am not shocked that I own 13 of them. The annual promo usually brings out the best of the digital offerings every year, and 2012 looks to be no different.
Of the five games on offer this summer, at least three of them will go down as instant classics, not to mention day one purchases by yours truly. It would have been four day one purchases, but I no longer give money to help sponsor the corporate wrongdoings of Activision. Pretty much meaning that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD is a no-buy for me; even if you paid me to purchase it – I’d just take your money, and still would not buy the game with it.
That aside, it looks to be a great summer line up, with a few surprises thrown in. And I for one cannot wait until the festivities kick on in late July. Look past the break to see the highlights of this year’s Summer of Arcade.
TEQUILA WORKS’ DEADLIGHT
Set in the Great Zombie Apocalypse of 1984, Tequila Works’ Deadlight is everything we used to love about classic 16-bit action-adventure games where the game world itself, is just as much a character as the protagonist, like Out of This World (Another World), Prince of Persia, and Flashback: The Quest for Identity, and then some. The developer Tequila Works went through painstaking detail to make the game look and feel like it was taking place in the 1980s, yet simultaneously making the game play itself feel 2012 fresh. With a lone survivor storyline inspired by the works of Tim Matheson, Cormac McCarthy, Richard Corben, and JG Ballard. Part survival-horror, part action-adventure side-scroller, Deadlight is shaping to be this year’s Shadow Complex . . . or maybe this year’s LIMBO.
Summer of Arcade 2012 is full of what are shaping up to be huge surprise hits, and HYBRID is likely to be the most surprising one of them all. Equal parts Full Spectrum Warrior, and Gears of War, 5th Cell’s (of Scribblenauts fame) HYBRID is one helluva fun multiplayer shooter, and with heavy emphasis on tactical movement, plays absolutely like no other cover-based shooter that you have ever played before. Who’d have known that the studio famous for making much more docile ware, could be responsible for what is shaping up to be one of the year’s most original online shooters? And I had the privilege of playing the beta back in April. It was surprisingly a lot of fun, and easy to see why Microsoft locked it into for Summer of Arcade exclusivity, and published the game themselves. Like a said, a good mix of Gears of War and Full Spectrum Warrior, throw in a really innovative movement and cover system, some rocket packs, lots of guns, a deep upgrade progression tree, a $15 price tag, and hopefully a robust online community willing to look past the dated graphics, and this one has winner written all over it that simply does not play like anything you would expect in the shooter genre.
DUST: AN ELYSIAN TAIL
Dust: An Elysian Tail is an platforming action-RPG that has long been in development. I got the honor of playing a much earlier version of this game when it was up on XNA Builders’ Club, before going on to win Microsoft’s Dream.Build.Play contest in 2009, and locking in a publishing contract from Microsoft Studios. Besides fantastic game play and some of the most astounding 2D graphics this side of Astal, Dust‘s biggest claim to fame is the fact that it was developed, programmed, produced and animated by a single person, Dean Dodrill. Not that you would know, as the game looks, sounds and feels every bit as if an entire development team spent a year working on it – and that was how it felt back in 2008/2009. Since then this indie title has had three more years of development added to the original package. I am honestly expecting toes to curl up everywhere, once people get hold to the demo later this summer. Put this way, Dust: An Elysian Tail is set to be Microsoft’s anchor title for the Summer of Arcade 2012 promotion. And considering that Microsoft has a very good eye for picking the anchor title (Braid, Shadow Complex, LIMBO, From Dust), the one game that ultimately is remembered for defining that year’s entire promo for the rest of time, you can be more than sure that Dust: An Elysian Tail is in very good company.