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A "Free" Game Room On XBLA, Plus The Indie Game You Must Play On WiiWare

If you're into downloadable games, you've got a busy week ahead. Check out the full report within.

The much talked about Microsoft Game Room is releasing tomorrow, March 24th. The Game Room is an intriguing experiment – a way to bring the earliest classic arcade-style games to the 360 and PC. Centipede, Lunar Lander, Combat, Yar's Revenge, and Adventure  - 30 games in all can be downloaded for the service. The good news is that the Game Room download is free. This initial framework will let you take your avatar into the virtual arcade. Bad news is that every game title you purchase will run between 240 Microsoft points ($3) and 400 Microsoft points ($5). The lower tag enables play on a single platform. For the full list of downloadable titles available with the Game Room, check out our earlier post.



Perhaps the most anticipated downloadable game this week is Cave Story, which arrived yesterday on WiiWare for 1200 Wii Points ($12). This indie game originated in Japan in 2004, but developed a cult following across the world over the coming years. The new WiiWare version has updated graphics, audio, and new game modes, and is well worth a look even for fans who've already conquered its many secrets. For newcomers, Cave Story is a side-scrolling action/platform game in the classic style of early NES hits like Metroid, Castlevania, or Mega Man. Though this game came out years after those brethren, it deserves a place of honor standing at their side. If this sounds like it might be up your alley, check out our full review for more details.



PlayStation Network has a large number of new additions coming our way this week as well, though they a number of them remain something of a mystery. The first scheduled release for Thursday, March 25th, is Wakeboarding HD. This recently revealed title appears to emulate a number of features from 2003's Wakeboarding Unleashed Featuring Shaun Murray. Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to check the game out for ourselves quite yet, so it's hard to guess at the game's ultimate quality. You can hit the water for $14.99.



Similarly, we haven't heard too much about Hamsterball, but the game looks to share a lot in common with the familiar mechanics of Super Monkey Ball. In the game, you guide a hamster through colorful and crazy obstacle courses. The game includes 2-player split screen, and something the developer is calling 7-player Sumo. Call us intrigued. We'll keep you updated if there's anything more to know about the game when it releases this Thursday for $9.99 on PSN.



Sony also reports to us that a new racing game called Anarchy: Rush Hour is headed to PSN this week for only $7.99. The game comes from Gaijin Entertainment, the same Russian development house that brought us IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey and X-Blades. Anarchy plays as a fast, arcade-style racer set in an analogue of the city of Moscow.  The cars sure look nice, but we just don't know enough about the title to recommend it one way or another.



A more familiar title is also sailing onto PSN this week, and it's one that any serious adventure gamer should have on their must-have list. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is finally migrating over from its console exclusive period on XBLA. The humorous and engaging first adventure of Guybrush Threepwood can be yours on Thursday, March 25th, for only $9.99 of your well-earned pirate booty.



Still not enough PSN content? Alright, you asked for it. March 25th will also see this US release of Blue Toad Murder Files: Episode 1. The game (and its subsequent episodes) appears to have released in the UK late in 2009, but this is the first we've heard of an official US release. Regardless, the game sounds like an interesting concept. The first of six episodes introduce players to the village of Little Riddle, where puzzle solving can help to uncover the identity of a dangerous murderer. The game's unique feature is the addition of up to 4-player cooperative play. The title seems to have some interesting ways to make puzzles compelling to multiple players at one time. We've heard the game runs pretty short, but its episodic nature could make it a fun and humorous distraction for a a family get-together or a small party of friends.

Cave Story gives us a good reason to head to our Wii this week, and Sony certainly has a number of third-party titles arriving in the next couple of days. How about you? Any of these new offerings float your boat?

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