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Carcassonne screenshot

Unless you’re from Europe, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of the board game Carcassonne before. I sure haven’t, but after giving it a look – and keeping in mind the success of Catan – it looks like we’re getting another solid XBLA release this week. And finally we get another game that makes use of the Vision camera. It still doesn’t quite feel like it was worth $40, though.

The official word on Carcassonne:

Using strategic tactics and a little luck, one to five players take turns selecting from 72 tiles displaying various features of a city including roads, the walls of a castle or fields. The medieval countryside thrives as players and their opponents place tiles and complete towns, roads, and farms while competing to accumulate the most points.

Game Features

  • Special AI settings to challenge any skill level
  • Challenge your friends – Up to five players can play over Xbox LIVE or up to four players can play on the same Xbox 360
  • Interact with new and old friends alike over Xbox LIVE while you play “Carcassonne” with the Xbox LIVE Vision camera
  • Helpful step-by-step tutorial to teach you the game in minutes
  • Skill-based matchmaking for ranked games
  • The complete “Carcassonne” includes 72 tiles and all rule sets
  • “Carcassonne” includes the “Rivers II” expansion set - 12 additional tiles
  • Earn up to 200 Gamerscore and 12 Achievements

The game goes live this Wednesday, June 27, for 800 Microsoft Points ($10).

Gallery: Carcassonne Hits XBLA This Wednesday


Prince of Persia Classic

For those of you who think Prince of Persia is a series that began last gen, you’re dead wrong. Prince of Persia was originally a PC title, developed back in 1989. Now the game is resurfacing as Prince of Persia Classic on the Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points ($10). The interesting catch to the game is that you’re required to save a princess… but in under 60 minutes.

The features list is exactly what you would expect from an XBLA game: improved graphics; new traps, puzzles, and enemies; 12 achievements; and leaderboards in three flavors – Normal Mode (complete the game as fast as possible, saving after each level), Time Attach Mode (start from the beginning if that princess isn’t saved in 60 minutes), and Survival Mode (complete the game in under 60 minutes without dying – good luck).

Gallery: Xbox Live Arcade 6/13: Prince of Persia Classic

Soltrio Solitaire screenshot

Typically when I download an Xbox Live Arcade game, I know right away whether or not it’s something that I’ll play for three minutes and delete, or if it’s something that’ll sit on my hard drive awaiting me to plunk down however many Microsoft Points it costs to own it. Soltrio Solitaire is one of those games I expected to delete right away. I mean, it’s just solitaire. Albeit, 18 different kinds of solitaire, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is something I’ve played enough of as I waste time on my computer. So I played a game of regular old Solitaire (which is apparently called Klondike – who knew?) and enjoyed it, and decided to try another type. Then I noticed that I was playing over and over and over. I quickly snatched up the full version so that I could attempt to climb the leaderboards and try out some of the game’s other features.

After a ridiculous number of games played (including time spent willingly playing this over the Halo 3 beta), I can safely say that if you’re a fan of card games, you should pick up Soltrio. Casual fans with short attention spans or graphic whores need look elsewhere – this is clearly aimed and successfully works as the type of game that sucks in anyone that can appreciate the depth of a card game.

Click to continue reading Soltrio Solitaire Xbox Live Arcade Review

Gallery: Soltrio Solitaire Xbox Live Arcade Review

It’s a veritable cornucopia of co-hosts, as Andy, Hawkes, Edie and Steve519 (from XBLRadio) initially intend to talk up this week’s gaming news but instead delve deep into what we think is a growing plague on the landscape of podcasting: Corporate Lapdoggery. Yes, this is the episode where we pretty much rip apart Microsoft’s MVP program and pretty much expect we’ll be banned from all Microsoft events from now on.

We didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done. What can I say, kids, after months and months of everyone thinking it, someone had to pipe up and say the emperor has no clothes.

Just be warned, we’ll say a lot of stuff that will make us enemies, but we believe we are firmly on the side of truth, fairness, and the open exchange of information. We believe that you should be able to trust podcasts—any podcast—as much as you trust your local newspaper. Is that too much to ask? And even though we’ll probably take a lot of heat for this, we’d rather be dead right than alive and wrong.

AND!! There’s a contest for Halo2 and Shadowrun for Vista and Stalker for the PC (XP or Vista). Just listen before the first break and the end of the show to find out how to win!

Gallery: GamerAndy Live! Episode 82: Sex, Lies and Gamertags

Pac-Man Championship Edition

Today’s XBLA release was first revealed yesterday as Pac-Man Championship Edition. Before you roll your eyes thinking that this is another port, you’d be well advised to give it a look – despite being 800 points ($10), this is a pretty rock solid release. I spent some time with it earlier today and had a blast; expect a review in the next few days.

New modes and redesigned mazes are the big attraction here (although those neon visuals sure are pretty). The new modes are as follows:


  • The Championship Mode. This is the main game mode designed by NAMCO BANDAI Games and Iwatani specifically for the championship round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. This mode – as well as all others within the “Pac-Man Championship Edition” – features redesigned mazes with wide maze walls and a widescreen configuration to better enable high-speed game play. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Challenge Mode 1 (Patience and Reward Course). This mode is an evolution of the Championship Mode.  Patience mazes strategically offer fewer Power Pellets and Reward mazes provide a large number of Power Pellets – providing unique challenges and rewards for the player. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

  • Challenge Mode 2 (The Darkness Course). In this mode, only the area directly around Pac-Man and the Ghosts is visible and the maze walls are completely hidden. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

  • Extra Mode 1 (The Freeway Course). An extremely high-speed mode for advanced players, this mode features warp-speed Pac-Man and Ghosts and plenty of tunnels. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Extra Mode 2 (The Manhattan Course). A mode inspired by the streets of Manhattan — the home for the first-ever Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. Timed limit of five minutes.

  • Extra Mode 3 (The Overall Course). A mix of all other modes resulting in extreme mazes for the most devout Pac-Man fans. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

    Gallery: Xbox Live Arcade 6/6: Pac-Man Is Back, Now With Neons

  • Geometry Wars

    Geometry Wars, for those who haven’t had an opportunity to play it, is a very simple game to describe: it’s like Asteroids on crack. With neon lights. And a lot more enemies. It’s super addictive, and has been the prized jewel of the Xbox Live Arcade since its release - many even considered it the best title available on the Xbox 360, retail or otherwise. Fans have been begging for a sequel, and they’re getting it, sorta – Geometry Wars: Galaxies is in development and is headed exclusively to the Wii and DS.

    For everyone who owns a platform other than an Xbox 360 (those guys and girl had their heads explode after reading that exclusive bit), the two titles were confirmed in the latest issue of Nintendo Power. The game is taking the classic “in a new direction” – expect an extensive campaign and multiplayer. They will each take advantage of the respective system’s features.

    The original Retro Evolved game will be included as well, making this one incredible package. Both games are being developed by Battalion Wars developer Kuju, and should see release sometime this fall.

    Gallery: Finally, A New Geometry Wars Is Coming


    For all of you out there distracted by, oh I don’t know, the biggest game of the year, you may have missed the little tidbit that Microsoft released a free (yes, FREE!) game, Aegis Wing, over Xbox Live Arcade yesterday. Aegis Wing, developed internally by interns at MS, is a side-scrolling shmup and is undoubtedly a bit of a ploy to attract developers to the ease of use of the XBLA developer tools. Still, it’s a fun little game with a great feature list for its $0.00 price, including Leaderboards, 4-player Xbox Live games, and voice chat.

    What did we think of this bare-bones shooter? Click the jump for our impressions…

    Click to continue reading Aegis Wing Impressions: Wait, Something for Xbox 360 is Free??!?

    Gallery: Aegis Wing Impressions: Wait, Something for Xbox 360 is Free??!?

    Prepare to work hard to get these achievements… the original Prince of Persia, that’s right the 2D side-scroller with play-control of doom will be making its way to the Xbox 360’s Live Arcade. As a bonus, it’ll feature updated graphics (think 2.5D) and from the look of this trailer you can expect a few added surprises. As Joystiq is keen to point out, this game will tie in graphically with the Sands of Time game, featuring the emo-prince character model that we’ve all come to know and love (except in Warrior Within of course - there was nothing loveable about him there).

    The original PoP and it’s 2D sequel are some of my fondest old-school gaming memories, so I’m hoping the folks developing this re-telling don’t screw it up. It’s all in the ridiculously hard play control, guys. We’re guessing around $10.00 for pricing (800 MS Points), and it’s slated to be released Q2 this year.

    Read More | YouTube.com

    Gallery: Original Prince of Persia Hitting XBLA

    GoldenEye 007 box art

    GoldenEye 007 is one of those titles that most gamers have fond recollections of. Released in 1997, it was the first console FPS that really got it - that is, up until that point, everyone looked at FPSs as something that only worked on PCs. But with a solid combination of single player and multiplayer mayhem, it captured the hearts of N64 owners to the tune of eight million copies sold. It seems only natural that a classic of this caliber would eventually makes its way onto the Virtual Console.

    But there’s one problem – when developer Rare was sold to Microsoft, the rights to the title became, as Rare put it, “… caught up in a convoluted web of rights the likes of which would make the Weaver from Perdido Street Station jealous. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, just that a lot of people with a lot of different perspectives are involved.”

    Click to continue reading GoldenEye On Arcade Or Virtual Console? “It’s Possible,” Says Rare

    Read More | Scribes via Cubed3

    Gallery: GoldenEye On Arcade Or Virtual Console? “It’s Possible,” Says Rare

    xbox 360 dashboard messaging

    The long-awaited Spring Update is finally set for launch tomorrow (Wednesday), with the headline feature being all-new Xbox Live integration with MSN/Windows Live Messenger. This is the third such major dashboard update in the life of the Xbox 360, and contains a long list of new features – but it’s ultimately the weakest of those three releases.

    Being able to instant message while gaming, watching movies or doing whatever else on the 360 is certainly a nifty feature, but isn’t going to be worth taking advantage of for the average user – at least not until the mini-QWERTY keyboard is released. USB keyboard support is being added, but unless you’re sitting fairly close (or wireless keyboards are supported), you’ll be stuck typing with the virtual keyboard. And from having sent hundreds over messages over Live, let me say that using that is nothing short of an exercise in patience.

    In addition to the IMing capabilities included in the update, the following features have been added:

    • On-screen pop-ups that immediately display the name and gamerscore value of a just accomplished Achievement, allowing gamers to see their progress without leaving or pausing the game. 
    • An even safer way to communicate through Xbox LIVE with enhanced family settings that enable different default settings for video chat and voice chat.
    • A new, standalone Xbox LIVE Marketplace blade houses all Xbox LIVE Marketplace content in one easy to navigate space.
    • Xbox LIVE Arcade enhancements that showcase what games friends are playing directly from the friends list. Boasting about high scores, comparing progress and checking out leaderboards are all easier now as well.
    • Faster access to free, trial version of Xbox LIVE Arcade games through an improved Auto Downloads feature.
    • The ability to fast-forward, pause and rewind video as it is being downloaded on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
    • Owners can now set their consoles to turn off after downloading content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace to help save energy, and download speeds have been increased.

    The Marketplace blade will certainly be useful, but what Microsoft is really trying to do is simply make it as easy as possible for you to hand over those Microsoft Points. But the new Achievement notification will be sure to go over well, especially with me, as I’m the type of person who always checks out what achievement I just unlocked - even if I’m in a multiplayer game.

    For more details on the free download and a full list of features, check out this page on Xbox.com.

    Gallery: Xbox 360 Spring Dashboard Update Hits Wednesday