The lights are on
With XBLA's summer promotion now beginning, we take a brief tour of each game to help you decide which ones you'll use to hold off the summer gaming doldrums. 2011's Summer of Arcade begins tomorrow, July 20th, with the release of Bastion. Traditionally, Microsoft has reserved some of the most compelling digital content of the year for five weeks around August, and this year is no exception. If you're still on the fence trying to figure out which games to purchase and play, we've pulled together a quick synopsis of each game and one of its trailers, all in one place, so you can figure it out. The games are listed by their release date on Xbox Live Marketplace. BastionRelease Date: July 20Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15)
Mixing action and role-playing with the thrill of discovering a new world, Bastion is a fantastic first game from Supergiant Games. Because it's only a day away, it's also the only one of these games for which you can read our full review right now. Think about what you might get if you mixed the exploration of a classic Zelda game with the combat of Diablo, and you'll start getting an idea of what to expect from the game. Gamers intrigued by the art of storytelling in games will be particularly interested in Bastion. An in-game narration tells the tale as you play it, and you feel like you're really part of the story while it happens. Bastion is a great start to this year's event, and not to be missed. From DustRelease Date: July 27Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15)It's been a long time since we've seen a good classic god game on PC, and now we have an entry for consoles. Ubisoft's From Dust casts you as the custodian of a tribal culture trying to hold off the the worst ravages of nature, from volcanoes to floods. You have no direct control over the people and their village, but rather you adjust the world around them, building up earth and water in strategic locations to help usher the people into a better life. Players interested in exploring a sandbox of creation will find a lot to love in From Dust. It's easy to get distracted by the simple experience of watching the way water erodes a riverbank and begins to change the whole dynamic of a landmass. Our early time playing the game has us highly positive about the final product.
Insanely Twisted Shadow PlanetRelease Date: August 3Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15)What if you had a Metroid game all about flying Samus' ship through a strange and dangerous world, rather than having her run around on foot? That's pretty much the concept you get with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, a beautiful 2D exploration game from Fuelcell. Your ship gains new abilities as you progress, from increased weaponry to tools that can alter the environment. As you explore, you'll encounter huge bosses and strange creatures moving through a world of shadowy caves and brilliant colors. Shadow Planet may not end up having the depth of upgrades and progression found in games it is modeled after, but the stunning visual style and sense of discovery could be just the ticket for many gamers starved for this sort of fare. Fruit Ninja KinectRelease Date: August 10Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)We can hear some gamers crying foul from here. How dare a casual Kinect title invade our Summer of Arcade? Well, it turns out there's a whole lot of players out there who really like both Fruit Ninja and playing with their Kinect, so it was sort of inevitable the two would come together at some point. On the bright side, our editors who have played the game found it to be quite fun. Like the original, the concept is pretty simple: Chop up fruit with wild swings of your arms as they fly up onto the screen. Single-player options are present, but the real draw here is a two-player mode that is ideal for parties. Fruit Ninja Kinect may not be the most complicated game on this year's Summer of Arcade promotion, but expect the game to bring a lot of players into Xbox Live Arcade who have never been there before.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.